Chinese media from 30 countries condemn attack on Xinhua offices in Hong Kong

Simone McCarthy

About 100 Chinese-language newspapers, magazines, television stations and online platforms from at least 30 countries have put their names to a letter condemning last week’s vandalism of Chinese state news agency Xinhua’s offices in Hong Kong.

The group was led by International Daily News, an organisation owned by Indonesian tycoon Xiong Delong that has ties to Chinese state media, including the overseas edition of People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party.

The company publishes about a dozen newspapers and magazines in Indonesia and the United States, as well as running two media websites.

The joint statement described the attack on Xinhua’s offices as “barbaric”. Photo: Winson Wong

According to the letter, which was published on Thursday and picked up by China’s state media on Sunday, the “barbaric acts of the mob against the national news agency have crossed the bottom line of the rule of law, civilisation and freedom, seriously hurting the feelings of the 1.4 billion Chinese people and the 56 million overseas Chinese”.

A group of protesters attacked Xinhua’s office building in the Wan Chai district of Hong Kong on the evening of November 2, smashing windows and throwing paint and petrol bombs into the lobby area.

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The letter said the attackers “trampled over the freedom of the press”, and called for those responsible to face the full weight of the law.

“We strongly urge the Hong Kong police to track down and seize the mobs involved in this operation to ensure that news agencies and journalists have a regular, safe and stable working environment,” it said.

“This extreme violence would not be tolerated by any country in the world,” the letter said, echoing a recent line taken by officials in Beijing, which has been ramping up the pressure on Hong Kong to do more to safeguard national security.

Immediately after the attack, the All-China Journalists Association – which is overseen by the Chinese Communist Party – described it as a “gross violation of the freedom of the press” and a “serious provocation to democracy and the rule of law”.

The Hong Kong News Executives’ Association and the Hong Kong Journalists Association also condemned the incident and called for an end to the violence in the city.

The International Daily News letter also commented on the Hong Kong protests in general, urging Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to “show greater courage” and lead the city’s civil servants in supporting police efforts to “stop [the] violence”.

Beijing has been closely watching the global coverage of the protests – sparked by the proposed introduction of an extradition bill that has since been withdrawn – and has repeatedly blamed the escalation of the unrest on “foreign interference” in its internal affairs.

In August, China’s foreign ministry sent a 43-page dossier to senior editors at major international media outlets to present its side of the story.

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