Hong Kong Edition of The Epoch Times in a Changing Media Environment

Hong Kong Edition of The Epoch Times in a Changing Media Environment
Chinese Epoch Times newspapers on display at a new stand in Hong Kong on May 2, 2023. (Sung Pi-Lung/The Epoch Times)

In Hong Kong, where the social and political environment for the media industry is becoming less favorable, volunteer staff members who distribute the Hong Kong edition of The Epoch Times publications on the street are often faced with various interference. Yet they are persevering. Readers, fans, and supporters, even peers in the same field often expressed concerns for their safety, questioning “What makes them persevere, under such pressure?”

Over the last month, we have reached out to several staff members of the Hong Kong edition of The Epoch Times, including volunteers responsible for distributions at the frontline. Here is what they have to say.

Visiting Local Police Station to Improve Mutual Understanding

Mrs. Lau (pseudonym), a retired teacher in her 80s, is a volunteer staff member of the Hong Kong edition of The Epoch Times. When distributing the special promotional editions of The Epoch Times on the street over the last few years, she often met police officers who told her “The Epoch Times is not a legal newspaper” or that she may be “violating the National Security Law (NSL)” and arrested for alleged “incitement.”

Being a lady with a small physical build, Mrs. Lau has a disproportionally sonorous voice. She said: “I asked them what clause of the National Security Law would I violate, when I am just telling people to do good deeds and abstain from bad ones? The police officers simply went quiet and couldn’t respond.”

In the past months, Mrs. Lau said, she had often been surrounded by officers who demanded to register her identity card. “I think they have a lot of misunderstandings. I wanted to clarify the truth to them, so I took down their badge numbers.”

Through the “Police-Community Relations Bureau,” Mrs. Lau obtained the contact numbers of those police officers and made several calls. But no one answered. Accompanied by two other volunteers, Mrs. Lau decided to pay a visit to the local police station. After a two hours wait, they were finally able to meet the senior officer in charge. Mrs. Lau stated the purpose of their visit, introduced the Hong Kong edition of The Epoch Times, and explained why she would volunteer her time and energy to do promotional work for the Hong Kong edition of The Epoch Times, all for the love of Hong Kong.

The senior officer receiving them affirmed that there was nothing illegal about distributing the Epoch Times newspapers. “It’s just that if there were too many people around, someone might complain about you.” He walked Mrs. Lau and others to the front entrance to see them off, repeatedly emphasizing, “We should communicate more in the future.”

Since then, Mrs. Lau has not experienced further ID card requests from the local police officers. She wrote a letter of appreciation to show her gratitude to the officer in charge, who received her at the local police station.

Intimidation From Pro-Communist Members in the Community

Another volunteer, Annie (pseudonym), is still in college. She told us one day when she was distributing a promotional edition of the Hong Kong edition of The Epoch Times in the street, a man with a mainland accent approached her and said “No more distribution here!” threatening “If you don’t leave [now], I will report [you] to the National Security Bureau.” The man showed Annie his police identity while taking down Annie’s ID card number as well.

On another day a woman came up and took a picture of Annie with her cell phone. The woman posted that picture on social media last month, boasting she had “intimidated an Epoch Times promoter” and threatened that she would send the photo “to the National Security Bureau and the Immigration Department” to report Annie.

However, Annie, a shy young lady, was not intimidated. She recalled the above incidents with a quiet smile and said calmly, “I hope she can distinguish good from evil, and only speak after she has learned the facts.”

Always Considering Others

Ms. Cheung (pseudonym), another elderly lady, is a volunteer who has been distributing The Epoch Times (HK) on the island side of Hong Kong for more than ten years. She told us that in the areas she covered, the police also take down ID details of the Hong Kong edition of The Epoch Times volunteers often, “sometimes twice a day.” Ms. Cheung said the local police officers can easily call her by name.

Ms. Cheung recalls a local pro-communist group symbolized by wearing green vests (commonly understood to be CCP funded, the group’s sudden emergence and disappearance coincided with the time in office of former Chief Executive C.Y. Leung), used to harass the Hong Kong edition of The Epoch Times volunteers from time to time. Facing this harassment, a police officer once said to Ms. Cheung: “I am not taking a side, we are neutral.” Ms. Cheung responded: “Not so, if you don’t side with the good, you are siding with the evil, so you must stand with us.” The officer immediately got it, “I never thought about it (this way) before.”

Ms. Cheung told us: “We must remain kind and think for others. We should not blame the (individual) policemen just because their job is to work for the CCP. They are in a difficult position and we should be able to put ourselves in their shoes.”

Ms. Cheung said that kindness can also change the environment. “A hostile old woman used to scold the volunteers over the last 7, 8 years, but now she has changed and stopped doing so.”

She also recalled explaining calmly to a person threatening to report the volunteers: “The Epoch Times is a licensed newspaper in Hong Kong. You can check it out. If not so, how can we promote the paper publicly like this?” “Talking irresponsibly is not good for you.”

Chief Editor: Reporting the Truth, Albeit Under Pressure, Is to Continue Hope

We also talked to Guo Jun, editor-in-chief of The Epoch Times (Chinese edition).

In recent years, though the social-political environment in Hong Kong has deteriorated for the media industry, The Epoch Times Daily (in print) is still available for sale, and the weekly promotional editions continue to be distributed for free. Although distribution channels have reduced, readers and supporters of the Hong Kong edition of The Epoch Times are still able to subscribe or purchase the newspaper from designated newsstands and obtain the e-newsletters online.

According to Guo Jun, Hong Kong Epoch Times has always operated legally, with a license issued by the government. “Although we have encountered certain difficulties and felt some pressure, there are many righteous people in Hong Kong, including civil servants and police officers, who recognize and support the Hong Kong edition of The Epoch Times.”

The CCP has launched various political campaigns in history, exterminating traditional Chinese culture in the process, distorting history, and often blind and deceive the Chinese people with so-called patriotism. The CCP also uses its economic might to achieve political purposes, putting pressure on foreign governments, business consortiums, and overseas media. The CCP’s ultimate goal is the so-called “liberating all of mankind (meaning conquer the whole world with communism),” Guo continued.

She said: “In this unprecedented contest between good and evil, the CCP is trying its best to lower the moral standards of China and the world. However, when the moral standard of the society falls to the brink of total collapse, it is also the time when human beings will be destroyed.”

Guo quoted Falun Gong founder Li Hongzhi’s article “How Humankind Came To Be,” published in January this year (2023), “All of the madness now unfolding in the world was planned as such, for the final phase, by divine beings. Their goal was to test the lives here and see whether they were worthy of salvation, and give them a chance to, in the process, work off their sins and karma while going through difficult things. And all of this was done so that people could be saved and gain deliverance back to heaven.”

She continued to explain, “Though under pressure, therefore, the Epoch Times has been unremittingly reporting the truth, hoping to help people recognize the real nature of the CCP, so that they can understand the revelations from the divine at this special time (in history) and thus be saved in the final days.”

“The very existence of ‘The Epoch Times’ is the continued hope of people in today’s difficult times,” she added. She hopes The Epoch Times continues to operate in this spirit, adhering to its principles. “We believe that we can persevere, because we want to help from the most basic, most fundamental conscience. We call on all walks of life to continue to give the Hong Kong edition of The Epoch Times their support.”