Taipei, August 14, 2019—The Committee to Protect Journalists today expressed concern over an assault on a Chinese reporter covering pro-democracy protests at Hong Kong International Airport yesterday.
Protesters at the airport surrounded, tied up, and beat Fu Guohao, a reporter for Chinese state-run tabloid Global Times, according to news reports and his employer. According to an interview by The Stand News with a protester who allegedly was involved in the attack, Fu was wearing a neon vest indicating that he was a member of the press, but when asked whether he was a reporter, Fu said he was not, and told protesters that he was a tourist. According to reports, Fu also refused to show his press pass when asked to do so by protesters, of whom he was taking close-up photos.
A PTS News Network Facebook live stream showed that Fu was surrounded and then tied to a luggage trolley with zip ties by protesters who suspected that he was a Chinese police officer. The video later showed some protesters kicking and beating Fu as others tried to stop the attack. According to news reports, an “I love HK police” t-shirt, business cards of police officers, and a Global Times name card were found in Fu’s bag.
“The assault by protesters on Global Times reporter Fu Guohao is unacceptable,” said CPJ Program Director Carlos Martinez de la Serna in New York. “Journalists from all outlets must be allowed to cover the demonstrations in Hong Kong without having to fear for their safety.”
Hong Kong Free Press reported that pro-democracy lawmakers Kwok Ka-ki and Fernando Cheung tried to mediate the tensions and stop protesters from beating Fu. The reporter later received medical treatment and was escorted to an ambulance, according to the report. According to the HKFP report, Fu has been discharged from the hospital. CPJ’s email to Kwok and Cheung did not immediately receive a response.
Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin posted a video of the attack on Twitter and wrote that he condemns “all acts of violence against journalist[s].” CPJ did not receive a response to its email to the Global Times.
The Hong Kong Journalists Association released a statement condemning the attack and urging mainland Chinese journalists to “clearly show their press cards” when covering demonstrations in Hong Kong to avoid misunderstanding. According to the statement, there was another incident that took place last weekend in which protesters surrounded a Hong Kong China News Agency reporter and demanded that she delete photos she had taken.
The Hong Kong Police Force was not present at the airport during the incident, the PTS news live stream showed. The Hong Kong Police Force did not immediately respond to CPJ’s emailed request for comment.
CPJ has previously expressed concern about the use of force against journalists in Hong Kong, after police used batons and tear gas during protests on June 12 and injured a video journalist during protests on August 5.