Hong Kong Basic Law

Chinese journalist arrested after slapping volunteer at British conference on Hong Kong freedoms and labelling participants traitors

State-run CCTV demands apology from conference organisers for violating rights of its reporter

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 October, 2018, 1:58pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 October, 2018, 4:40pm

A female journalist with China’s state broadcaster has been arrested in Britain after slapping a volunteer at a conference attended by Hong Kong democracy activists.

The 48-year-old from King’s Cross, London, was taken into custody by West Midlands police after the incident in Birmingham, where she also accused the event’s host of being “anti-China”, and labelled participants “traitors”.

Police told the Post the woman was arrested on suspicion of common assault and remained in custody on Monday night, Hong Kong time.

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State broadcaster CCTV demanded an apology from conference organisers, saying the rights of its reporter Kong Linlin had been violated, according to a report by its English-language station CGTN.

Enoch Lieu, a student volunteer, was slapped twice.

On Sunday, the London-based NGO Hong Kong Watch and Britain’s Conservative Party Human Rights Commission co-organised a forum that centred on the erosion of elements such as freedom, the rule of law and autonomy in Hong Kong.

According to a statement by Hong Kong Watch, prominent Hong Kong democracy activists Martin Lee Chu-ming, founder of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party, scholar Benny Tai Yiu-ting, co-founder of the Occupy movement and student leader Nathan Law Kwun-chung, spoke at the event.

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A Chinese woman with an accredited press pass at the conference had confronted Benedict Rogers, deputy chairman of the human rights commission and also founder of Hong Kong Watch. Rogers was at the centre of a row between Hong Kong and Britain last October after he was barred from entering the city.

Near the end of Sunday’s conference, Rogers said he was neither pro-China nor anti-China.

“I want China and its people to succeed. I am a critic of the current Chinese government and the way it treats its people, but I am pro-China [towards the] country … and I believe it is in both China’s and Britain’s interests for Hong Kong to succeed,” he said.

“It is therefore in all our interests for both China and Britain to honour our commitments under the Sino-British Joint Declaration and ensure that ‘one country, two systems’ is upheld.”

Rogers was referring to the policy under which Hong Kong is granted a high degree of autonomy after its return from British to Chinese rule in 1997. Under the declaration, the one country, two systems model shall be in place until 2047, but critics have said Beijing has encroached on Hong Kong’s rule of law and freedoms in recent years.

After Rogers made his remarks, the woman stood up and shouted at him: “You are a liar. You are anti-China. You want to separate China. And you are not even Chinese. The rest are all traitors.”

The woman then slapped Lieu, who was trying to get her to leave the venue.

Hong Kong Watch later quoted Lieu as saying the woman was from Chinese state-run CCTV.

In a short video uploaded on Hong Kong Watch’s Facebook page, the volunteer says to the woman: “Please go.” The woman responded by yelling “Hong Kong puppet” at Lieu, and hitting him.

“You have no right. I am a journalist here,” the woman said, when she was asked to leave. “How democratic is the UK?”

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Several staff members later escorted the woman out.

The volunteer who was slapped also left the room. His request to see the woman’s press badge was refused, with the latter saying: “You bullied me. This guy bullied me.”

On Monday, the Chinese embassy in Britain issued a statement saying: “In a country that boasts freedom of speech, it is puzzling that the Chinese journalist should encounter obstruction in such a way and even assault at the fringe event when she simply raised a question and expressed her opinions. This is completely unacceptable.”

The statement said that the Conservative Party’s Human Rights Committee should stop interfering in China’s internal affairs and stop meddling in Hong Kong’s affairs.

“The organiser of the fringe event should apologise to the Chinese journalist,” it said.

The statement said that since the 1997 handover, the one country, two systems principle has accomplished “remarkable success”.

“The fringe event of the Human Rights Committee of the UK Conservative Party during the Party’s annual conference boosted the arrogance of the anti-China separatists. It was a cause for grave concern and strong objection,” it said.

“China firmly opposes interference in Hong Kong’s internal affairs by anyone or any organisation in any form. Any attempts or actions that advocate Hong Kong independence will be in vain.”