Volunteer assaulted at a Conservative Party conference fringe event on human rights in Hong Kong
On 30 September 2018, a volunteer was assaulted by a Chinese journalist at a Conservative Party Conference Fringe event on human rights in Hong Kong. The Chinese Embassy have issued a statement defending the actions of the journalist.
Hong Kong Watch and the UK Conservative Party Human Rights Commission co-hosted the event, chaired by Fiona Bruce MP, which focused on “the erosion of freedom, the rule of law and autonomy in Hong Kong.” Speakers at the event came from three generations of democracy activists from Hong Kong – the founder of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party Martin Lee, and Umbrella Movement leaders Benny Tai and Nathan Law, a former political prisoner who was disqualified from the Legislative Council – as well as the co-founder and Chair of Hong Kong Watch Benedict Rogers.
Towards the end of the event, just before Martin Lee gave the final remarks, Benedict Rogers, who also serves as Deputy Chair of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, concluded with these words: “I am pro-China, not anti-China. I want China and its people to succeed. I am a critic of the current Chinese government and the way it treats its people, but I am pro-China as a country and a people and I believe it is in both China’s and Britain’s interests for Hong Kong to succeed. It is therefore in all our interests for both China and Britain to honour our commitments under the Sino-British Joint Declaration and ensure that ‘one country, two systems’ is upheld.”
Immediately a Chinese woman, with an accredited press pass, stood up and screamed at Mr Rogers: “You are a liar. You are anti-China. You want to separate China. And you are not even Chinese. The rest are all traitors!”
Fiona Bruce MP invited her to leave, but she continued to shout. A student volunteer approached her and insisted that she should leave, but she refused and slapped him twice. Security was called and removed her from the venue, as she continued to shout: “You have no right to interfere in Hong Kong”. She was subsequently arrested by the police.
Benedict Rogers said: “It is very concerning that a woman believed to be a representative of Chinese state media and accredited to the party conference should abuse her position by trying to intimidate those of us who are exercising our legitimate right of freedom of speech. To then physically assault a party conference delegate in this way is unacceptable. Is this a sign of China’s increasing aggression and bullying, well beyond its borders? We urge the British government to raise this case with the Chinese authorities and make it very clear that such behavior is completely unacceptable. In future, accreditation for Chinese state officials at party conferences should be seriously reviewed and restricted if this is how they behave.”
Subsequently the Chinese Embassy issued a statement which called on the organisers of the fringe event to “apologise to the Chinese journalist” for “obstruction” and “assault” at the fringe event. The Embassy said: “Hong Kong is China's Hong Kong. Hong Kong affairs are purely China's domestic affairs. The fringe event of the Human Rights Committee of UK Conservative Party during the Party's annual conference boosted the arrogance of the anti-China separatists. It was a cause for grave concern and strong objection. China firmly opposes interference in Hong Kong's internal affairs by anyone or any organization in any form.”
Benedict Rogers said: “Video footage of the event exposes how absurd this statement is. Over 80 witnesses in the room saw that the Chinese journalist slapped our volunteer twice, and the video shows her hitting him again. She should apologise immediately and the Chinese government should retract their statement. At a party conference in the UK we have every right to discuss Hong Kong, not least because Britain has legal obligations to the people of Hong Kong under the Sino-British Joint Declaration. Under this treaty, lodged at the United Nations, Hong Kong affairs are still very much Britain’s concern.”
NB: Video can be found on our facebook page: www.facebook.com/hongkongwatch1