The publisher of Hong Kong‘s Apple Daily, controlled by Jimmy Lai, a democracy supporter and critic of Beijing, has condemned an assault on one of its female reporters by unknown assailants.
The journalist had been covering anti-government protests that have rocked the former British colony over the past three months, plunging the city into its biggest political crisis in decades.
She was attacked at a restaurant on Tuesday night by four men dressed in black and wearing the protesters’ trademark yellow helmets and masks, Apple Daily reported.
The reporter was taken to hospital, the newspaper said on Wednesday, but it gave no details on her condition and did not name her.
Publisher Cheung Kim-hung said that the newspaper had “no fear of violence and will continue to defend freedom of the press and the public’s right to know”.
The Hong Kong Journalists’ Association (HKJA) condemned the attack, which police said was under investigation.
The incident follows an assault on democratic legislator Roy Kwong, who was taken to hospital earlier on Tuesday after being punched and kicked by three men in the Tin Shui Wai district close to the border with mainland China.
Fellow Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting said the assailants had suspected links to triads – organised criminal gangs – and the attacks were intended to “send a message to threaten” pro-democracy legislators.
Earlier this month, police were also accused of using pepper spray on a group of journalists who were filming the arrests of protesters in the city’s Mong Kok district.
In another incident, also earlier this month, police were captured on video throwing tear gas canisters at several journalists who were clearly identified by their media vests.
In recent days, there have also been efforts to publish a “smear campaign” against the journalists aimed at discrediting their coverage of the protests, the HKJA group said.
Demonstrators are frustrated at what they see as Beijing’s tightening grip over the city, which returned to Chinese control in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula intended to guarantee freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland.
China has said it is committed to the arrangement and has repeatedly warned foreign countries not to interfere in what it says is an “internal affair”.
Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, US President Donald Trump drew a link between resolving the US-China trade dispute and Beijing’s treatment of Hong Kong.
Trump said Washington was “carefully monitoring the situation” in the territory.
“How China chooses to handle the situation will say a great deal about its role in the world in the future. We are all counting on President Xi as a great leader,” he said, referring to his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.