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Media and garment mogul Jimmy Lai Chee-Ying, well-known for his anti-Beijing sympathies and support of the Hong Kong democracy movement, paid former World Bank president and US Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz US$75,000 last year for “services in regards to Myanmar,” leaked documents show.
The nature of the services provided by Wolfowitz to Lai in Burma are unclear. Wolfowitz currently works for the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank, and is the chairman of the US-Taiwan Business Council.
Some 900 files – believed to have been extracted from the computer of Lai’s assistant, Mark Simon – were distributed anonymously to media outlets, detailing Lai’s donations to pro-democracy parties in Hong Kong.
The leaks also included photographs and documents detailing two visits Lai made to Burma in January and June 2013, the latter of which he was accompanied by Wolfowitz. He met with a number of cabinet ministers, as well as the head of the armed forces, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, and President Thein Sein.
The leaked documents include records of transfers totalling $213,00 made by Lai to Yuzana Ma Htoon and Phone Win, the operators of Mingalar Myanmar, a Rangoon-based social enterprise NGO. Phone Win confirmed to the media that Lai is supporting Mingalar Myanmar’s Free to Start Small campaign, intended to promote the development of small-and-medium enterprises in the country.
The leaks also detail Lai’s interest in property development in Burma, alluding to two proposed hotel developments in partnership with Phone Win, who characterised Lai as a close friend of the couple.
Ties between Lai and Jade King and Queen Service, a conglomerate chaired by Sai Myo Win, an ethnic Shan businessman from Myitkyina in Kachin State, were also revealed in the documents.
In recent months, anti-Beijing sentiment in Hong Kong has become increasingly palpable. On 1 July, marking the 17th anniversary of the transfer of sovereignty from Britain to China, hundreds of thousands took to the streets of the city’s financial district to protest political interference and demand the right to elect their own chief executive.
From 1986 to 1989, Wolfowitz served as the American ambassador to Indonesia, before joining the George H.W. Bush administration in 1989. He later became one of the principal architects of the “war on terror” and the foreign policy of George W. Bush.