Last September, a journalist from the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV was arrested for slapping an activist from the UK’s conservative party. The journalist, 49-year-old Linlin Kong, was recently declared guilty by a British magistrate court. She has been working with CCTV for about 26 years.
Linlin assaulted Tory delegate Enoch Lieu, accusing him of “trying to separate China” at the party’s annual conference in Birmingham. According to the journalist, Enoch manhandled her first and she had only responded. However, the court found her guilty of assault and termed her attack as being “in the heat of the moment.” The slap was apparently of such force that even a delegate about eight seats away heard it.
The judge, Shamim Qureshi, noted that Linlin physically responded to Enoch in two ways — first by slapping, and secondly by pushing his arm away. While the first obviously amounted to a criminal assault, the second was devoid of anything illegal. The judge sentenced her to a 12-month conditional discharge. As such, Linlin won’t be put in jail unless she commits another offense during this period. She is to pay compensation and a victim surcharge amount of about US$2,700.
Linlin’s barrister announced that they will appeal against the conviction and the sentence. In her defense, the barrister argued that only authorized security personnel should have acted in the situation and that by dealing with Linlin directly, Enoch became a victim of his own misfortune. However, the judge dismissed the argument on the ground that it essentially promoted victim-blaming.
The judge was also very critical of the police force, who “failed to keep proper control” of a video clip that showed what happened during the incident after the slap. The video was taken by witness Adam Kerson, who was also called in to give evidence during the trial. The judge declared that the witness was not lying about his viewpoint of the incident.
“The police need to move with the times and modern technology, and they need to learn to differentiate between original and copy videos… Poor policing, in this case, has left Mr. Kerson high and dry and subject to highly professional but merciless cross-examination,” the judge said in a statement (Mirror).
Support in China
In China, Linlin’s fight with the party member was very much celebrated by the state media. They spun the incident as a patriotic Chinese person standing up to the imperial West. The Chinese embassy in London accused the conference organizers of harboring anti-China separatists. They argued that Linlin was just exercising her right to ask questions when she was ejected from the premises.
Chinese social media came to support Linlin. Some of the comments include: “Please support and reward a journalist who’s determined to defend a country’s unity and dignity,” and “I am here to ‘like’ your action. Thanks, you’ve helped us curse at British dogs and Hong Kong independence pigs.” (QZ)
Benedict Rogers, a China critic and human rights activist who was heckled by Linlin at the event, rubbished the Chinese embassy’s claims as “complete nonsense” and reminded them that the conference was not a venue for “shouting, screaming, lying, and assault.” At the event, Linlin accused Rogers of promoting separatist ideologies among the Chinese.