A video in which a female CCTV reporter is seen screaming and lashing out at a pro-Hong Kong democracy event during the annual Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, has triggered controversy on social media.
A spokesperson of the Chinese embassy has since condemned the UK Conservative Party for its “interference in Hong Kong’s internal affairs.”
Video footage of a CCTV reporter shouting and refusing to leave during a Birmingham conference on Hong Kong is making its rounds on Twitter and Weibo today (For the 2.00 minute Weibo video check here).
The incident occurred on Sunday, September 30, during a Hong Kong-focused event of the annual Conservative Party Conference.
The fringe event was themed around “the erosion of freedom, the rule of law and autonomy in Hong Kong.” Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP) reports that Enoch Lieu, a Hong Kong-born British graduate from Keele University, was slapped in the face twice by the female reporter while volunteering at the event in Birmingham.
On his Twitter account, Lieu (@enochcafe) writes that the event was focused on “China’s continued suppression of Hong Kong, human rights, and China’s breach of the Joint-Deceleration,” and that the female journalist shouted from her seat, accusing people in the panel of “trying to separate China,” saying they were “puppets” and “fake Chinese.” Lieu says the woman had a press pass, and that he later learned she works for the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.
When Lieu, as he writes, told the woman she was no longer welcome at the conference and tried to escort her out, she allegedly turned violent and slapped Lieu in the face. When other people intervened and tried to get her to leave, she allegedly continued shouting and slapped Lieu again.
The woman was eventually removed by police, HKFP reports. “I love my country, and this CCTV journalist is great.”
On Weibo, one post that included the video of the incident was reposted more than 500 times at time of writing (and is quickly attracting more attention).
Blogger ‘HuanYa SYHP’ writes: “This CCTV reporter is great! At a conference on Hong Kong issues held by the Conservative Party in Birmingham, she slapped a ‘Hong Kong independence poison fans’. At the conference hall, she criticized ‘HK independence poison fans’ saying: you are traitors, you are anti-Chinese. You want to separate Hong Kong from China, you are not Chinese, you are traitors.”
The online slang term ‘Gǎng dú fēnzǐ’ ( literally means ‘Hong Kong-poison-members’ (or ‘[harmful] political elements’) and is a derogatory term for those supporting Hong Kong independence. The characters for ‘Hong Kong poison’ have exactly the same pronunciation as those for ‘Hong Kong independence’. “Let’s organize an event in Beijing to discuss Birmingham independence, too,” some commenters jokingly say.
Author Xicheng Jiezi, who has more than 800,000 fans on Weibo, wrote about the incident: “I love my country, and this CCTV journalist is great.” Although the journalist is praised by some on Weibo, there are also commenters that call her behaviour “shameless.”
“The job of a journalist should be to do unbiased reporting of the news, and pay attention to their neutrality,” an anonymous commenter wrote: “But this reporter deliberately put herself in the middle of the news, she is not a genuine journalist.” “Puzzling that the Chinese journalist should encounter obstruction in such a way.”
On Monday, October 1st, CGTN (formerly CCTV International) published a response to the issue from a Chinese embassy’s spokesperson, who was quoted as saying that “In a country that boasts freedom of speech, it is puzzling that the Chinese journalist should encounter obstruction in such a way,” and that “The Human Rights Committee of UK Conservative Party should stop interfering in China’s internal affairs and stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs.”
The spokesperson further said that the organizer of the fringe event should apologize to the Chinese journalist. Financial Times correspondent Ben Bland posted a response to the Chinese embassy’s statement by human rights activist Benedict Rogers, who helped organise the Birmingham event, on Twitter (@benjaminbland): State media outlet China Radio International published another article today that discloses the name of the reporter as the Europe correspondent Kong Linlin.
It further states that a CCTV spokesperson condemned the behavior of the people at the event towards their correspondent as “inacceptable.” Just as the Chinese embassy, they demand an apology from the UK Conservative Party. Kong Linlin describes herself as a Chinese TV journalist mainly focused on “Brexit UK” on her Twitter account.
On Weibo, she has more than 60,000 followers on her account. It is not the first time Kong’s name comes up in an online controversy. In 2016, she accused a BBC correspondent John Sudworth of creating “fake news” and spreading “hate propaganda for BBC” on Twitter, as the blog China Change reported at the time.
By Manya Koetse