A female reporter from China Central Television (CCTV), China’s state-owned broadcaster, was detained by British police on Sunday after she reportedly created an uproar and slapped a volunteer at a conference attended by Hong Kong pro-democracy activists in Birmingham.
The journalist, identified by CCTV as Kong Linlin, was later freed without charges, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The event was co-hosted by UK-based rights monitoring group Hong Kong Watch and the Conservative Party’s Human Rights Commision to discuss “the erosion of freedom, the rule of law and autonomy in Hong Kong”.
Three prominent pro-democracy figures from Hong Kong were invited as guest speakers at the event: Nathan Law Kwun-chung, a standing committee member of the political party Demosistō; Benny Tai Yiu-ting, an associate professor at the faculty of law of the University of Hong Kong and one of the leaders of the 2014 Occupy movement; and senior counsel Martin Lee Chu-ming, former lawmaker and founding chairman of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party.
When the event was about to end, Benedict Rogers, the deputy chair of the Conservative Party’s Human Rights Commission, said: “I am pro-China, not 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 as a country and a people,” Hong Kong Watch reported in a post on its website on Monday.
“I believe it is in both China’s and Britain’s interests for Hong Kong to succeed. It is therefore in all our interests for both China and Britain to honor our commitments under the Sino-British Joint Declaration and ensure that ‘one country, two systems’ is upheld,” Rogers said.
According to a video clip uploaded to the Facebook page of Hong Kong Watch, a woman, later identified as a CCTV journalist based in the UK, suddenly stood up and interrupted Rogers’ remarks, accusing him of being anti-China.
“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 screamed.
Fiona Bruce, MP, who chaired the event, asked the lady to leave, but she refused. She continued shouting and warned them not to touch her.
She later left reluctantly, but not before she slapped a Hong Kong-born volunteer, identified as Enoch Lieu, twice in the face, prompting local police to briefly detain her.
Lieu said in his Twitter account that the woman slapped him twice.
The Chinese embassy in the UK and CCTV protested the treatment received by the CCTV reporter.
“Hong Kong is China’s Hong Kong,” a spokesperson for the Chinese embassy said. “Hong Kong affairs are purely China’s domestic affairs. The fringe event of the Human Rights Committee of 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.”
The embassy also called it totally unacceptable for the party to prevent the Chinese reporter from expressing her views during the conference and accused the organizers of violating her personal freedom.
“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 spokesperson said.
“The organizer of the fringe event should apologize to the Chinese journalist.”
CCTV said Kong’s legal rights were infringed and also demanded a formal apology from the party. It urged the British government to ensure that all of its reporters can enjoy legal rights in the country.
CGTN, an English language news channel of CCTV, reported on Tuesday that Kong had been released without charges.
The UK police freed Kong “in a short period of time under the pressure of the Chinese Embassy in the UK and of public opinion”, CGTN said, citing CCTV Europe.
– Contact us at [email protected]