Challenges We Face
In November of 2019, it wasn’t uncommon to see people dressed in black roaming the streets of Hong Kong.
In fact, for many democracy-loving Hongkongers, they were a welcome sight: activists who were fighting against the increasing encroachment of the Chinese communist regime on the island’s politics.
So when staff at The Epoch Times’ Hong Kong print shop saw four black-clad men outside their door early one November morning, they didn’t think much of it.
But then, these men – two of them with batons in hand – entered the print shop. By 3:50 A.M., they had set three printing machines ablaze, along with several paper rolls and a large number of newspapers.
Fortunately, we’re quite used to being attacked by now. What was left of that morning’s papers were still delivered, as scheduled.
Over the course of twenty years, we’ve always tried to keep our reporting truthful and responsible to our readers, who count on us to give them the facts. And for twenty years, we’ve been continuously punished for it: not just with fire, but with demonetization, death threats, imprisonment, robbery, and much more.
Below is a rough timeline of some of the incidents we’ve encountered as a media organization.Timeline
In the fall of 2000, soon after The Epoch Times was founded in Atlanta by John Tang, Zhang Yuhui attempted to spin up a Chinese office in Zhu Hai City as the editor-in-chief of the China edition.
He and his first ten employees were soon arbitrarily arrested for their trouble in December of the same year. As the editor-in-chief, Zhang received the severest sentence of the lot: ten years in prison. Huang Kui, one of the staff members arrested with Zhang, had received five.
In prison, both Huang and Zhang had been interrogated, tortured, forced to do slave labor, and coerced into brainwashing classes. Though Huang was released in 2004 and Zhang in 2010, The Epoch Times has yet to establish another Chinese office to this day; China still has yet to found a newspaper that is free from the Communist Party’s control.
In 2006, The Epoch Times’ Chief Technical Officer, Dr. Peter Li, had his home in Duluth, Georgia, broken into at night by three men who threatened him with a gun and knife, blindfolded him and duct taped his mouth, tied him up, and beat him.
The men then stole two laptop computers, several hard drives, and some of Dr. Li’s personal documents. Dr. Li was left bloodied and bruised, with moderate to severe wounds on his eyes, temples, mandible, chest, and waist.
Notably, the assailants had left Dr. Li’s valuables untouched. Since Dr. Li has had important documents stolen from a hotel room while attending an Epoch Times conference two years prior, he believes that these aggressors were seeking access to the sensitive information that he had as CTO.
In June of 2008, agents from the Chinese embassy had been physically attacking dissidents against the communist party in Flushing, New York. Avy Fei, a Flushing resident and advertiser on the Chinese edition of The Epoch Times, expressed that the agents have also been interfering with her advertising contracts.
She told The Epoch Times that she and her daughter have received threatening phone calls that attempted to pressure them into withdrawing their ads from The Epoch Times. Fei and her daughter, however, have ignored these harassing calls.
“How can something like this happen in a democratic country? This is absolutely detestable!” she said.
But this is not the only time that our advertising clients have been threatened. Many of our contracts in the United States and Canada have been broken after companies have received phone calls or written communication from Chinese embassies or other front groups of the Chinese communist party. In Hong Kong, similar groups have attempted to blackmail our advertisers.
This is one of the main reasons that we rely on a subscription-based funding model rather than an advertising based model.
In mid-2019, the streets of Hong Kong were filled with mass protests against the Chinese regime and its increasing influence in the city. The Epoch Times has been a vital lifeline in providing uncensored information on the events in Hong Kong.
However, on Nov. 19, 2019, four men dressed in black, two of them armed with batons, entered The Epoch Times’ print shop at around 3:43 A.M. They proceeded to yell at the print shop staff, and then threw a flammable liquid over the print shop machines and newspapers before setting all of it on fire.
By 3:50 A.M., they had set a printing press ablaze, along with several paper rolls and a large number of newspapers, causing tens of thousands of dollars in damage.
This event has been captured on one of the surveillance cameras at the print shop and can be viewed here.
On June 12, 2020, Jerry, a videographer at the Hong Kong branch of The Epoch Times, was covering an event commemorating an intense police-protester confrontation during the Hong Kong protests when he was attacked by a man with a knife.
While live-streaming a street stand set up by pro-democracy activists, Jerry witnessed a verbal conflict between a few citizens escalate into a physical altercation. One of the belligerents, who had drawn a knife, noticed Jerry capturing the scene from a distance. This man then rushed towards Jerry and attempted to take his filming equipment.
A 22-year-old bystander defended Jerry by grabbing the attacker’s blade with his bare hands, injuring himself but successfully deterring the attacker.
When Jerry revealed to the bystander his identity as an Epoch Times staffer, the bystander replied, “I don’t regret helping you.”
A Democratic Dystopia: Deplatformed, Demonetized, and Otherwise Denied
As our English edition has been gaining popularity in the United States and the rest of the Free World, our efforts at advertising The Epoch Times have been increasingly interrupted by various Western companies.
Without going into specifics, our ads have been flagged by certain companies and forced to be taken down. Some companies have even blocked us as an advertiser entirely. Our online content has also been barred from monetization on certain platforms and has even been shadow banned without our knowledge.
Certain vendors and providers have also denied us service, some due to pressure from advocacy journalists. All of these pose challenges to our daily operations as a media, to this day.