Chinese state media CCTV has said that it hopes the UK authorities “will not be influenced by political forces” in an upcoming court case involving its London-based journalist Kong Linlin. It said it supported her “right to counterclaims.”

HKFP first reported on Wednesday that West Midlands Police had charged Kong, 48, with common assault, and will appear at Birmingham Magistrates Court on November 7.

Kong allegedly slapped Conservative Party member Enoch Lieu twice, on September 30, at the party’s annual conference in Birmingham. The incident took place during a fringe event discussing human rights and democracy in Hong Kong.

CCTV Kong Linlin
CCTV UK-based reporter Kong Linlin. Photo: Screenshot.

A CCTV spokesperson said in a statement that its European branch had taken note of the case, claiming that Kong was “sued” by Lieu: “CCTV supports Kong Linlin’s right of counterclaims [against Lieu].”

Kong was, in fact, prosecuted by the Crown Prosecution Service.

“[CCTV] stressed that it’s indeed the perpetrator that has dragged the victim to court,” the statement said. “Kong expressed her views while raising questions at the event after which she was obstructed and physically harassed by Lieu.”

‘Political forces’

The broadcaster claimed that after Kong was arrested last month, she was quickly released “under growing pressure from the Chinese Embassy in the UK.” They also claimed that the UK police “confirmed physical assault on Kong and released her without any charge.”

“CCTV spokesperson said it hopes the parties concerned in the UK will not be influenced by political forces,” it said. “It urged the UK side to make a fair judgement based on facts and protect the legitimate rights of the Chinese journalist.”

Birmingham Magistrates Court
Birmingham Magistrates Court. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Oosoom at English Wikipedia/cc-by-sa 3.0.

‘Shocking and confusing’

The Chinese Embassy in the UK has said it was “shocking and confusing” that a Chinese state media journalist based in Britain had been charged with common assault.

A spokesperson for the Embassy said Kong “encountered obstruction and was manhandled by the organizer of the event when she was expressing her opinion.”

“After investigation, the UK police released Kong Linlin with no charges. The Chinese side has expressed grave concern to the UK side over the injustice done to the Chinese journalist,” the spokesperson said.

“Recently the UK police overturned its original decision and brought charges against Kong Linlin. This is both shocking and confusing,” it added.

Chinese Embassy London UK
Chinese Embassy building in Portland Place in the City of Westminster, London, United Kingdom. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Chmee2/cc-by-sa 3.0.

“The British judicial authorities are urged to handle this case fairly and do justice to the journalist. We urge the UK side to take effective measures to protect the legitimate rights of Chinese journalists in the UK to their job.”

When invited to comment by HKFP, West Midlands Police said in response: “Court proceedings are now active so unfortunately we cannot discuss the case any further.”

Lieu also told HKFP he could not offer any comment as the case is ongoing.

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.