by WorldTribune Staff, April 13, 2021
The Epoch Times has reported yet another attack on its Hong Kong printing press in what is believed to be the latest attempt by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to silence the news outlet and eliminate freedom of the press.
Four masked intruders armed with sledgehammers and a knife forced their way inside in the early morning hours of April 12, threatening employees and smashing computers and printing equipment.
Cheryl Ng, a spokeswoman for the Hong Kong edition, described the attack as characteristic of the CCP and called it a crime against Hong Kong’s freedom of speech.
“The violent attack on freedom of the press in Hong Kong was conducted in the stealth mode characteristic of the Chinese Communist Party,” said Robert Morton, President of Free Press Foundation.
“We now see similar suppression in the United States,” he warned. “Corporate media goons are taking AI sledge hammers to the online printing presses of alternative media outlets.”
The attack was captured on video and lasted about two minutes. It began when an individual loitering on his cell phone at 4:38 a.m. entered the doorway to the business after it was opened by an arriving employee. Three other men immediately forced their way through, handing the first a bag containing construction debris to spread over equipment. After smashing equipment, the four stole a computer and fled the scene in a white van.
Several U.S. senators have spoken out against such attacks, as have the rights groups Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and the Foreign Correspondents Club in Hong Kong.
One of very few independent media outlets remaining in Hong Kong, The Epoch Times has built its reputation there through uncensored coverage of China, including the regime’s human rights violations against minorities and religious groups, its international propaganda activities, and political infighting within the CCP.
In 2016, for example, the paper reported state-run human organ harvesting in China of up to 1.5 million organs, primarily from prisoners of conscience belonging to the Falun Gong religious group.
April of this year has seen multiple similar stories, characteristic of the press and critical of the CCP, such as the paper’s reporting of a mother detained for 700 days in a Chinese labor camp due to her faith; a teen girl’s fears that her parents detained in China will be tortured over their faith; a remembrance of those killed for their faith that was printed on China’s Memorial Day; and U.S. lawmakers seeking accountability for China over organ harvesting.
The paper was also one of the few Hong Kong outlets providing positive coverage of the pro-democracy protests in the city.
Coverage of the protests coincided with a similar early morning attack on the press in November of 2019. Four individuals, dressed in black and wearing masks to resemble protesters, entered carrying batons similar to those used by police. They set fire to two printing presses and other equipment before fleeing, doing $40,000 in damage. They remain at large.
The Epoch Times described the 2019 attack as characteristic of “a pattern we have seen in Hong Kong,” whereby “police and thugs have pretended to be protesters, journalists, and citizens, and committed violence, including beatings and arson, then blamed the protesters in an attempt to discredit them.”
The Epoch Times asserts:
The CCP has worked to silence The Epoch Times for years. For instance, Ms. Lu, the Hong Kong edition’s circulation manager, said that in April [of 2019] a popular convenience store in Hong Kong tore up a contract for selling The Epoch Times under pressure from the CCP, despite the sales exceeding the contract requirements many times over. Lu also said there have been incidents of intimidation of journalists from time to time.
The most recent kinetic attack is the fifth that has occurred since the Epoch Times was founded in 2006, newspaper officials said.