The attack was swift and violent. On 12th of April, the Hong Kong printing warehouse of US-headquartered daily newspaper The Epoch Times was stormed by four armed and masked individuals who threatened employees and damaged the main printing press and other equipment with sledgehammers. This incident, which was recorded on security footage, is the second attack on the media outlet’s warehouse in two years, after an arson attack in 2019.
“By leaving previous attacks on journalists unpunished and creating a climate of suspicion against independent media outlets, the Hong Kong authorities are encouraging such violence”, says Cédric Alviani, head of RSF East Asia bureau, who calls on Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to “put an end to her government’s attacks, which are threatening media independence, and restore full freedom of the press as enshrined in the Basic Law she is supposed to enforce.”
The Epoch Times, a media outlet close to the religious movement Falun Gong, banned and persecuted in Mainland China, is not the only media victim of violent attacks in recent years. On 1st July 2019, a group of masked men vandalized the independent Hong Kong broadcaster Citizens’ Radio. In 2015, Next Digital media group, which publishes the pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper, was targeted by two arson attacks, one year after former Ming Pao editor Kevin Lau was severely injured during a knife attack.
Hong Kong, once a bastion of press freedom, has plummeted from 18th place in 2002 to 80th place in 2020 in the RSF World Press Freedom Index. The People's Republic of China, for its part, remains at 177th out of 180.