Chinese Man Charged With Racially Aggravated Assault After Hong Kong Activists Attacked in Southampton

Chinese Man Charged With Racially Aggravated Assault After Hong Kong Activists Attacked in Southampton
Metropolitan Police officers outside the Houses of Parliament, in London, on March 21, 2023. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Lily Zhou
7/23/2023
Updated:
7/24/2023
0:00

A man has been charged with racially aggravated assault after a group of Hong Kong pro-democracy activists were allegedly attacked near the University of Southampton after a Rally in June.

Zheng Gong, 23, of High Street, Southampton, was due to appear at Southampton Magistrates’ Court, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary said on Friday.

The police didn’t reveal Mr. Gong’s citizenship. Information posted on a Chinese social media site under an account in his name appears to suggest he’s a Chinese citizen.

Hampshire police launched an investigation in June after footage circulated online showing a group of young Mandarin Chinese-speaking men confronting a man and a woman on June 11.

The footage, published on Twitter shortly after the incident, appears to show two people kicking the man.

One of the attackers appeared to have waved a Chinese flag in the man’s face, shouting, “Hong Kong belongs to China.”

The 11-second video was published by Li, known as Teacher Li, who gathered a significant following on social media last year for collecting and publishing footage during the widespread protests in China against COVID-19 lockdowns and Communist Party rule.

‘Hong Kong Independence Activists’

In the description, Mr. Li said students from the nearby University of Southampton had attacked a Hong Kong protester and bragged about it on social media.

Mr. Li also published two screenshots, allegedly from a group chat on Chinese social media app WeChat.

In one of the screenshots, WeChat users made expletive-laden comments after one user posted a photo of a Hong Kong rally with a description saying “[expletive] Hong Kong independence activists are gathering in [the] city centre.”

One user suggested a group of people should surround the rally and “sing the national anthem.”

In another screenshot, a user posted the footage of the alleged assault, followed by “violently beating Hong Kong Independence dog,” with others cheering.

It’s worth noting that while the word “dog” can be used as an extremely derogatory term, the word is also widely and casually used with little negative connotations.

The Epoch Times has not been able to independently verify the information.

The police said at the time the two people had “received minor injuries as a result of the assault.”

Confidence

The male victim told the Voice of America (VOA) under the pseudonym John that the arrests have given him confidence in the British police.
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary announced the charge on July 21, which coincides with the fourth anniversary of an attack in Hong Kong on pro-democracy protesters by a group of masked men.

John told the VOA, “Compared to the July 21 incident a few years ago, at least [I] feel more confident about the UK government. Their police are not like [the police in Hong Kong who] left what happened four years ago inconclusive. There’s still no justice.”

Commenting on a media report that said Mr. Gong had left and returned to the UK after the alleged assault and was arrested after some Hongkongers photographed him at a supermarket and tipped the police. John said Mr. Gong should have been noticed when he reportedly re-entered the UK.

The police declined to release further information on Mr. Gong or on whether there are other suspects.

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