Paramedics take away GT reporter Fu Guohao after he was beaten by rioters in the Hong Kong International Airport on Wednesday. Photo: AFP

Last night, our colleague Fu Guohao was besieged, assaulted by rioters and beaten to the ground in the Hong Kong International Airport during the second consecutive illegal protest that paralyzed one of the busiest transport hubs in the world. 

We were near Fu at the time, and surrounded by groups of black-clad protesters. We could not rescue him. Why? Because even medical staff had difficulty helping people at the time, as protesters blocked their way. 

The whole newsroom of the Global Times was outraged by rioters treating our reporter in such an inhumane way and strongly condemned the act, which could be considered terrorism. We also looked into media reports on the brutality of the mobs, and found that some Hong Kong media such as Apple Daily, and Western journalists, tried to find an excuse for the brutal act. 

After weeks of reporting on the Hong Kong protests, which have now escalated into riots, a clear view has emerged on how some local reporters in Hong Kong have become the accomplices of rioters. 

The Hong Kong-based Apple Daily claimed that Fu was a fake journalist who called himself a tourist, giving some hints about the reasons why protesters hit him. Without looking into the details, the newspaper founded by Jimmy Lai Chee-ying came up with the ridiculous conclusion that Fu deserved to be beaten because he did not present his true identity. Lai is widely seen as a traitor in China who has been allegedly working with foreign forces in leading protests and providing cover for rioters. 

Some Western journalists, including a female reporter surnamed Chan who is very good at smearing China publicly, implied that a reporter working for the Global Times deserved to be assaulted. 

A BBC reporter also blamed Fu for not accurately identifying who he was when protesters asked, which could have been a big mistake on his part. 

We were a few miles away from my colleague when he was brutally attacked by protesters, but we were not able to rescue him because rioters blocked the way. We felt the same desperation every time during the past months when we covered illegal assemblies of anti-government protesters, which have all ended up being violent, brutal and inhumane.  

Journalists’ role

What role did some Hong Kong media and foreign reporters play amid the riots? We could only identify them as accomplices as they helped hinder the police in the process of law enforcement, verbally attacked police and government officers who do not agree with them, and sent police-related information to frontline rioters.  

We attended two press conferences organized by the Hong Kong police and witnessed how the much-touted press freedom functions in Hong Kong and how rudely and disrespectfully Hong Kong journalists behave. 

We understand that as journalists, one of our duties is to supervise government authorities. We can even challenge authorities when necessary, but by no means challenge without manners. 

Hong Kong citizens are known for their good manners. Unfortunately, we saw no manners at the two press conferences. 

The first press conference was on Monday. One day earlier, during the violent protest in the Tsim Sha Tsui area, a young woman was hit by a beanbag in her right eye. Various speculations circulated online, with some saying that the police made the shot, while others believed the woman was a victim of her fellow protesters who actually made the shot with an air grenade launcher. 

As a result, most Hong Kong media came to the press room with anger and resentment. One of the four police officers started to give a briefing, but in less than five minutes he was interrupted by a reporter from the Apple Daily, who questioned why he was giving such a “useless” briefing as it was not what the Hong Kong reporters wanted. 

Then the other Hong Kong reporters started yelling, and the scene was almost as chaotic as the violent protests on the streets. But the police officers’ mild-mannered nature could not make them stop. When we moved on to the next question, he was immediately interrupted.

If Hong Kong reporters and protesters want freedom of speech, why did they not listen to those who hold different opinions? What is worse, they think they are speaking for the civilians, without admitting that some civilians have committed acts of extreme violence and violated the law to the detriment of public security.

The other press conference was another demonstration of Hong Kong reporters’ rudeness. A reporter identified himself as one from a mainland media outlet and asked whether the Hong Kong police defined the ongoing violent protests as terrorism. He asked in Putonghua. 

Of course, terrorism is a term that Hong Kong media and those behind the violent protests do not want to be labelled with. After the press conference ended, the Hong Kong media reporters present began to speak Putonghua in a surly and sarcastic way, obviously aimed at mocking the mainland reporter.

The reporter apparently sensed the atmosphere of enmity and countered, “Can’t I speak Putonghua in China’s Hong Kong?” 

The Hong Kong journalists went even further, saying, “Of course you can, and the police will be nice to you,” which was another insult aimed at the police.

Selective reporting

It is not difficult to draw the conclusion that the protest, which started out as being against the extradition bill, has become a shame not only for the violent mobs, but also for Hong Kong media, which have chosen to report in a selective and biased manner. Are they happy to see the city paralyzed and brought to a chaotic state? As the black terror hits the city and the silent majority dare not voice their opinions, where is so-called democracy and freedom?

In recent riots, we twice noticed two so-called journalists wearing yellow vests chatting with black-clad protesters between two separate guerilla-style attacks on police stations in Sha Tin and Kwai Chung. Several sources close to the young radical protesters told us that anyone could pretend to be a journalist after buying vests from online shops. 

“They play undercover roles for protesters, keeping an eye on police deployment,” the source said.  

During a standoff between Hong Kong police and protesters, a group of journalists usually stand in front of police officers, capturing every detail of their movements on cameras. Almost no journalist will shoot footage of protesters, especially when they damage public property, vandalize police stations and assault other people. 

It’s now become a shame for Hong Kong where these cruel, cold-blooded rioters will attack a defenseless journalist from the mainland, and it is much more wretched for all those Hong Kong media and foreign reporters, who honor freedom of press, to defend such terror-like acts. If they are not accomplices, tell us, what are they?

Newspaper headline: Media mayhem