A member of the UK’s Conservative Party says he was assaulted by a Chinese state media reporter on Sunday during a Hong Kong fringe event at the party’s annual conference.

Enoch Lieu, a British fresh graduate from Keele University who was born in Hong Kong, was volunteering at the event in Birmingham. He told HKFP that he was slapped in the face twice by a woman carrying credentials from Chinese state-owned CCTV. He said Kong Linlin, CCTV’s journalist based in the UK, was shouting and refused to leave when asked.

“I always know events on Hong Kong will attract hostile attention from China, however I wasn’t expecting I [would] be assaulted by a CCTV reporter right at the party conference,” Lieu told HKFP.

“Her action was an insult to British democracy and it shows that some people have no regard to common decency and the value of free speech at all.”

The reporter was arrested and the assault case is being handled by West Midlands Police, according to Lieu. Lieu and two witnesses have given statements.

CCTV said it has lodged an official protest to UK authorities over the treatment of Kong.

Hong Kong panel

The event was co-organised by Hong Kong Watch, a UK advocacy organisation founded by Conservatives human rights activist Benedict Rogers to lobby the UK Parliament on Hong Kong issues. The organisation’s patrons also include members from other UK parties.

The event, entitled “The Erosion of Freedom, the Rule of Law and Autonomy in Hong Kong,” was attended by Rogers, Fiona Bruce MP, as well as Hong Kong pro-democracy figures Martin Lee, Benny Tai and Nathan Law.

Benny Tai Nathan Law Fiona Bruce Martin Lee Benedict Rogers
From left: Benny Tai, Nathan Law, Fiona Bruce, Martin Lee, Benedict Rogers. Photo: Nathan Law.

Rogers told HKFP that he gave concluding remarks about ensuring Hong Kong’s Handover agreement was honoured, but was interrupted: “[A] Chinese woman, with an accredited press pass, stood up and screamed at me, very aggressively: “You are a liar. You are anti-China. You want to separate China. And you are not even Chinese. The rest are all traitors!’”

Lieu said she claimed that the rest of the panel were puppets and “fake” Chinese. Bruce asked her to calm down before requesting that she leave.

As Lieu escorted the woman out, she continued to shout, accusing Lieu of trying to silence her: “Then I said ‘no, miss, you have to go.’ All of a sudden, she slapped me in my face,” Lieu said.

The following video occurred after the slapping incident:

YouTube video

Benedict Rogers confirmed the order of events with HKFP.

“The audience was shocked and some brave men and women came and tried to escort her out. During the struggle, she continued her shouting and refused to leave, then out of the blue again, slapped me again,” Lieu added.

The woman was eventually removed by police.

Apology demanded

A spokesperson of CCTV said it was unacceptable that the legal rights of a Chinese journalist were violated in the UK.

CCTV said it strongly protested the incident, and was demanding an official apology from the event’s organizer. It was also calling on UK police to safeguard the legitimate rights of the Chinese journalist.

YouTube video

In a statement, the Chinese Embassy in London 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. China firmly opposes interference in Hong Kong’s internal affairs by anyone or any organization in any form. Any attempts or actions that advocate Hong Kong independence will be in vain,” it said.

“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 Embassy said the Conservatives Human Rights Committee should stop interfering in China’s internal affairs and stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs. 

“The organizer of fringe event should apologize to the Chinese journalist,” it said.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.