Mark Simon, Republican and right-hand Jimmy Lai, owner of Apple Daily is back in the limelight after he was seen accompanying his boss in several important recent meetings with US government officials and recently with Christian Whiton, a US national security expert at dinner at Central.
Graduated from East Carolina University; National Defense Intelligence College; Georgetown University, his career spans a variety of industries. He began his early days as a US Navy Analyst between 1987-1991, Sea-Land Service, manager; 1994-95, K-Line Shipping, global account manager; Trans-Pacific Lines, chief operating officer before joining Jimmy Lai in 2000 as a senior executive. He was introduced to Jimmy by conservative writer Bill McGurn who later also became George Bush’s main speech writer.
Mark Simon’s father was a CIA agent in the United States for 35 years and he was interned with them before spending 4 years with naval intelligence. Many Chinese state media agencies have branded him a former spy and ‘backstage person’ for Jimmy. Simon handles private equity investment, property and hotel investment for Jimmy’s family and he is also responsible for Next Media’s advertising and sales strategy. In addition, Simon is a confidant of Jimmy when he takes care of personal matters for his wife.
During the Occupy Central period, local media revealed links between Jimmy Lai and Paul Wolfowitz, a former second person in the US Department of Defense during the Bush administration. Two of them were seen spending 5 hours on a cruise on Sai Kung.
In 2014, Simon was in the hot seat when emails and documents between Simon, Lai and several other senior staff were hacked and leaked to the local media. The contents of the document show detailed funding for pro-democracy activists and plans for the Occupy Central protest. Jimmy Lai allegedly raised HK$ 3.5 million to hold an informal referendum in June.
The leaked documents also show that Simon helped Lai build relations with right-wing US politicians. He arranged a meeting between Jimmy and former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin along with a group of democrat parties during his visit to Hong Kong in 2009.
Both Simon and Jimmy Lai did not deny the authenticity of the leaked document. However, Simon was very angry after the document was published.
The Anti-Corruption Independent Commission (ICAC) began an investigation after receiving information about the leak. Jimmy Lai was first interrogated on 19 September 2014 for more than two hours before they conducted a search of Mark Simon’s residence but they only took his daughter’s computer. He was then interrogated at the ICAC North Point office for more than two hours before leaving around 1pm. He did not answer any questions from media reporters after he left.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) finally dropped the charges because there was not enough evidence found. Some parties allegedly received HK$ 1.5 million and HK$ 300,000 each from Jimmy through Markus including Lee Cheuk-yan, Alan Leong (Chairperson of the Civil Party), James To, Democratic Party member of the Hong Kong Legislative Council, Claudia Mo, Democrat activist and Tanya Chan, founding member of the Civic Party was released by the DOJ because no evidence was found.
The allegations that were canceled made the local political scene shocked because most felt that the DOJ’s decision not to demand them lacked transparency.
Simon finally moved his family back to the US during the Occupy Central period after his address was revealed online.
Back in 2019, U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo met with Jimmy Lai and Mark Simon on July 8 in Washington, D.C amid protests by Hong Kong citizens over the proposed amendment to the extradition bill. Mark Simon told the media that the two sides held constructive talks about the current situation between China and Hong Kong and also with Taiwan.
However, the details of the meeting between Jimmy Lai and Mike Pence remain confidential. Jimmy Lai also met with National Security Adviser John Bolton after an earlier meeting with Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Republican Senators Ted Cruz, Cory Gardner and Rick Scott. But in an interview, he denied meeting with officials from the Trump administration.
It is noteworthy that Mark Simon wrote regularly. He is also a contributor to the Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP), a non-profit free online newspaper based in Hong Kong founded by independent journalists who recently raised more than HK$ 1.6 million in their 2019 funding effort. On June 1 this year, he wrote an article in HKFP about how New York would benefit if China destroyed Hong Kong.
On June 17, Mark wrote an article for Fox News at a street protest in Hong Kong and ended the article with the words “Believe me, they will line up every weekend if the Chinese Communist Party moves away from their doors.”
Then on August 3, he was once again seen having dinner at an Italian restaurant in Central with Jimmy Lai, Christian Whiton, a national security expert who had served as senior adviser in the George W. Bush and Donald J. Trump governments. Some democrats who were closely associated with Jimmy were also seen.
In 2014, Mark Simon, who was suspected of being an American spy during Occupy Central said that he believed “the US government is not interested in interfering in Hong Kong but only wants to remain stable.” But two days earlier, Mark Simom’s boss Jimmy Lai said in a Fox News interview that the United States had moral authority to support Hong Kong because both had the same Western Value.
Intelligence Connection for the Boss
“My father was a CIA for 35 years. I have worked with the CIA, and four years with naval intelligence…,” Mark Simon confirmed.
Mark Simon increased his intelligence connections to build his boss’s business empire. Mark Simon, a veteran ghost arranged for former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin to meet with a group at an anti-China camp during a 2009 visit to Hong Kong. Five years later, Lai paid US$ 75,000 to neoconservative Iraqi war writers and US Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz to arrange a meeting with top military figures in Myanmar.
Jimmy Lai’s trip was then to Washington DC in a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Adviser John Bolton, and Republican Senators Ted Cruz, Cory Gardner, and Rick Scott. Getting the spotlight from Bloomberg News Correspondent Nicholas Wadhams, he commented on Lai’s visit, “It is very unusual for [non-governmental] visitors to get such access.”
It’s hard not to suspect and believe that Mark Simon’s relationship with the CIA has been severed.
The denial that continues to be leveled by Mark, was naturally broken by his action in connecting Jimmy Lai with US security officials, and most convincingly, when financial statements to fund the protest leaked out to the public.
There is no doubt that Jimmy Lai is an extension of the US arm in Hong Kong. And Mark Simon, as if were Jimmy Lai’s right hand, he was the one who became the king maker behind the scenes in his actions against Hong Kong’s government. Looked at his background, Simon is very good at playing issues and spreading propaganda.