A reporter for the Hong Kong edition of The Epoch Times was assaulted on May 11 by an unidentified man wielding an aluminum softball bat, in an attack believed to be orchestrated by the Chinese regime in its latest attempt to silence reporting by the publication.
Sarah Liang was outside her residential building when the midday attack took place. The assailant hit her with the bat more than 10 times before fleeing in a car, leaving Liang with bruises on both of her legs.
The incident is the latest in a string of attacks on Epoch Times facilities and reporters in Hong Kong—all suspected of being organized by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as part of its campaign to thwart the outlet’s reporting in the city. The publication, one of the few independent outlets in Hong Kong, is known for reporting on corruption, political infighting, and human rights abuses committed by the communist regime.
Liang was transported in an ambulance to Queen Elizabeth Hospital for treatment, and around 3 p.m. local time, police arrived to get her account of the attack. As of 6:30 p.m., she was still in the hospital.
A witness with the surname Li said he was coming out of a nearby restaurant when he heard a woman screaming, “Help me, I am being beaten.”
Li said he then saw a large man in his 40s carrying a bat jump into a car and flee. According to Li, the assailant’s getaway vehicle was a black Mercedes-Benz with the license plate number “TV3851.”
He suggested that whoever was behind the attack wanted to send a warning to The Epoch Times and prevent the outlet from carrying out its reporting. He slammed the attack as brutal and inhumane, adding that he would be willing to testify against the attacker.
Speaking to local media outside the hospital at around 2 p.m. local time, Liang said she believed the attack was premeditated because another man suddenly charged toward her on May 8 at the same location where she was assaulted on May 11. In the earlier incident, the man eventually walked away after realizing that the bat hidden beneath his clothes had fallen to the ground while he was running.
Liang said she believes the attacker is connected to the CCP, and that the Chinese regime is trying to intimidate her through violence. She was also targeted in two separate incidents over the past month. On April 26, she was stalked by an unidentified man outside a local metro station. Two days earlier, a man who claimed to be making a delivery entered her residential building and knocked on her door. Liang declined to open her door after the man failed to identify himself.
She urged Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam to pay attention to her case as public safety in the city seems to be deteriorating.
The Hong Kong edition’s printing plant was also attacked by hammer-wielding intruders on April 12, forcing the facility to suspend operations for a few days. Less than two years earlier, the same printing press was set on fire by four masked individuals. The attackers haven’t been found by police. It’s widely believed that the CCP is behind both attacks.
June Guo, director of the Hong Kong edition of The Epoch Times, said there was no doubt that the CCP was behind the assault on Liang. Guo called on the international community to help ensure the safety of all reporters working in Hong Kong.
The CCP’s goal with this attack, as well as the others, is to force The Epoch Times to abandon its business in Hong Kong, Guo said.
The safety of staff at the outlet’s printing plant has been another concern. Guo added that there have been unidentified vehicles and people spotted near the facility recently.
Officials of the Chinese edition of The Epoch Times urged Hong Kong Police to carry out their duty to investigate all unresolved cases involving the Hong Kong bureau.
“We call on the general public in Hong Kong to continue to support The Epoch Times,” a statement from the outlet reads. “The Epoch Times will not back down and it will continue to provide truthful coverage and safeguard Hong Kong.”
They also requested the help of the international community to “prevent the CCP’s escalating violence against Hong Kong media.”
The former British colony, once celebrated for its civil liberties, has seen a drastic deterioration of press and other freedoms as the Chinese regime has tightened its grip over the city. In particular, Beijing’s imposition of a draconian national security law and other measures in the past year have led observers to say that Hong Kong will soon be just another mainland Chinese city—an outcome in direct violation of Beijing’s pledge under an international treaty to preserve the city’s freedoms and autonomy until 2047.
The Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA), in a statement on its Facebook page, condemned the violence against Liang and “solemnly urged” the police to quickly bring the attacker to justice.
“Freedom of the press is a core value that makes Hong Kong a success. We will never tolerate any violent threats against the media or journalists,” HKJA added.