A reporter for the Hong Kong edition of The Epoch Times was beaten by an unidentified man wielding a baseball bat on May 11, in an attack believed to be orchestrated by the Chinese regime in its latest attempt to silence the publication’s reporting.
Sarah Liang was on the first floor of her residential building when the assault took place at noon on Tuesday. The assailant swung the bat at her more than 10 times before fleeing in a car. The assault lasted about a minute and Liang was left with severe 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 political infighting, corruption, and human rights abuses committed by the communist regime.
Liang was taken away in an ambulance and sent to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for treatment. At around 3 p.m. local time, police arrived at the hospital to get Liang’s account of the attack. As of 6:30 p.m. local time, she was still in 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 baseball bat jump into a car and flee. According to Li, the assailant’s getaway vehicle was a black Mercedes-Benz with a licence plate number of “TV3851.”
Whoever was behind the attack, Li said, 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 if needed.
Speaking to local media outside the hospital at around 2 p.m. local time, Liang said the attack was premeditated because another man suddenly started charging toward her on May 8 at the same location where she was assaulted on Monday. In the earlier incident, the man eventually walked away after realizing that the black bat hidden beneath his clothes had fallen to the ground while he was running.
Liang called on Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam to pay attention to her case as public safety in the city seems to be deteriorating. The reporter said she believes the attacker is connected to the Chinese Communist Party, and that the Chinese regime was trying to intimidate her using violence.
Liang 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 self-described delivery man entered her residential building and knocked on the door of her home. Liang did not open her door after the delivery man failed to identify himself.
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 have not been found by police. It is widely believed that the CCP is behind both attacks.
Guo Jun, 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 pay attention to the safety of all reporters working in Hong Kong.
The CCP’s goal with this attack, as well as the others, was 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.
The Chinese edition of The Epoch Times called on 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 read.
“The Epoch Times will not back down and it will continue to provide truthful coverage and safeguard Hong Kong.”
It also called on the international community to help “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.