Around 4 a.m. on April 12, The Epoch Times suffered an attack on one of its printing presses located in Hong Kong. The attack is the most recent outrage against freedom of the press in the semi-autonomous region, which is living a complete political siege orchestrated by the Chinese Communist Party.
According to The Epoch Times, four men broke into the media’s printing plant destroying computers with hammers and scattering debris among the printing equipment, a situation that forced the Hong Kong headquarters to temporarily stop the newspaper’s circulation. The attack against the media comes just days before the sentencing of prominent local pro-democracy activists by the communist regime.
This is not the first attack on the newspaper’s Hong Kong headquarters, “In an attack on the same facility in November 2019, four masked men set fire to two printing presses; the perpetrators are still at large,” The Epoch Times said.
However, the newspaper’s headquarters in Hong Kong said it will not give in to the intimidations and communicated that the paper will resume circulation as soon as possible.
“This incident was to suppress Hong Kong’s freedom of speech and intended to silence media which tells the truth,” Epoch Times spokeswoman Cheryl Ng said in a statement. “We condemn violence and never back down.”
Something to be expected?
The attack on The Epoch Times is not surprising. The newspaper is closely linked to the Falun Gong religious movement, a meditation practice with millions of followers that was censored by the Chinese Communist Party in 1999. The newspaper was founded a year later by John Tang and other Sino-American citizens.
The founders of Epoch Times explained that the creation of the newspaper was due to the lack of knowledge that exists in most of the world about the censorship practices implemented by the Chinese regime. The media was born with the mission of defending religious freedom – such as the practice of Falun Gong – from the outrages of the Chinese Communist Party.
The Chinese Communist Party banned the newspaper from circulation in the territory they control because The Epoch Times is characterized as a scathing critic of the Chinese regime.
Considering China’s notable interference inside Hong Kong territory, the attack against the media is even logical. In fact, Mike Pompeo, former U.S. Secretary of State during the Trump administration, said that the attack against the Epoch Times was “appalling, but not unexpected” because of the practices that Xi Jinping’s regime usually carries out against the press.
“The Chinese Communist Party continues to demonstrate they will not honor their agreement on the freedom of the people of Hong Kong,” he said in a statement to The Epoch Times. “The United States should send a clear message that continuing to oppress the people of Hong Kong and eroding their freedoms, particularly the freedom of the press will not be tolerated.”
In recent weeks, a total of seven public information booths denouncing the Chinese regime’s abuse of the Falun Gong spiritual practice have been vandalized in Hong Kong. As a result, persecution against movements and organizations related to its religious practice is on the rise.
Press freedom plummets in Hong Kong
Since 1997, when Hong Kong went from being a British colony to being under the CCP with the “one country two systems” model, China always tried to impose on Hong Kong the national security law that would take away a good part of the freedoms of the Hong Kong region.
The regime failed twice trying to pass the law, first in 2003 and then in 2019. Hong Kong citizens rallied in largely suppressed demonstrations, but which served to push back against the regime. Finally, last year, in the midst of a pandemic generated by the coronavirus, the Chinese Communist Party took the opportunity to pass the controversial security law in months when citizen control was much more plausible.
One of the freedoms most harmed by the CCP’s interference in Hong Kong was freedom of the press.
According to The Epoch Times, since Hong Kong came under Chinese administration, media freedom has fallen considerably. Today, the semi-autonomous administration “ranks 80th in the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index, down from 18th in 2002,” the newspaper reported.