Four intruders barged into the printing plant of the Hong Kong edition of The Epoch Times in the early hours of April 12, damaging computers and printing equipment. The attack is believed to be the latest effort by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to silence The Epoch Times.
In an attack on the same facility in November 2019, four masked men set fire to two printing presses. The perpetrators behind the arson attack have remained at large.
Cheryl Ng, a spokeswoman for the Hong Kong edition, said the intrusion was characteristic of the CCP and had the aim of silencing an independent outlet from reporting on topics that are taboo to the communist regime.
Ng condemned the attack and said it was a crime against Hong Kong’s freedom of speech.
The Epoch Times, one of the few independent media outlets in Hong Kong, is known for its uncensored coverage of China, including political infighting within the CCP, the regime’s human rights violations against ethnic minorities and religious groups, and Beijing’s propaganda and influence operations abroad.
The Hong Kong edition has also provided extensive independent coverage of the city’s pro-democracy movement, which started in June 2019 but subsided in July last year when Beijing imposed a draconian national security law on the China-ruled city. The law has further stripped away Hong Kong’s dwindling autonomy, in particular the city’s press freedom.
In a statement, the Hong Kong edition of The Epoch Times condemned the CCP for creating “white terror” in Hong Kong, while calling on the international community to monitor Hong Kong’s freedom of speech, which is under siege by the communist regime.
About 4:38 a.m. on Sunday a female employee of the printing press returned to the print shop, where she spotted a man in his 30s chatting on his cellphone standing nearby.
When the employee tried to pull closed the sliding door, the man suddenly walked up and stood in the door, preventing it from being closed.
The man then angrily questioned the female employee, asking her to have Mr. Chu come out and meet him. In response, the employee said there was no such person, but the man refused to walk away.
All of a sudden, three other men showed up and pushed their way into the printing plant. Two of them carried sledge hammers, and one of them carried a plastic bag with a knife in it.
They shouted at another print shop employee: “Go away, Go away. It is none of your business. Go away. Don’t force me to do anything.”
After barging in, the men started smashing the printing press equipment with their sledge hammers. Among the items damaged were the printing press’s central control panel and several computers. One of the men also tossed construction debris from his bag onto the equipment.
The intrusion was captured on video. It lasted about two minutes, and all four men were wearing masks. When the men left they stole a computer. They then fled in a white van.
The printing plant staff then called the police, who arrived shortly afterward.
The printing press, established in February 2006, has been attacked four previous times.
In February 2006, thugs broke into it and damaged the newly purchased printing equipment.
In October 2012, thugs attempted to break into the print shop but could not smash open the gate. In December 2012, seven men carrying multiple toolboxes appeared and began attempting to break through the gate. They fled after police were called.
The arson attack, which happened on Nov. 19, 2019, resulted in estimated damages of over $40,000. That day four individuals, who dressed in black in an apparent attempt to disguise themselves as Hong Kong democracy protesters, lit a fire causing the warehouse’s sprinkler system to turn on.
Several U.S. senators, as well as rights groups Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists, and the Foreign Correspondents Club in Hong Kong, all spoke against the arson attack.
Ng said that the Hong Kong edition of The Epoch Times will not bow to violent threats, and is in the process of fixing damaged equipment. She expressed hope that the Hong Kong police will resolve the case and bring the four men to justice.
She urged Hongkongers to continue to support the newspaper.
From The Epoch Times