China irked by incident at fringe Tory event

BIRMINGHAM • Beijing's embassy in London has demanded an apology after a Chinese state TV journalist was removed from a fringe event about Hong Kong at the Conservative Party's conference.

A video showed the China Central Television (CCTV) reporter heckling at the event organised by the party's human rights committee and then apparently slapping one of the organisers.

Police in Birmingham, England, where the conference is taking place, said a 48-year-old woman was held in custody overnight on Sunday after being arrested on suspicion of common assault.

Mr Enoch Lieu, a party activist, said she slapped him twice after he had asked her to leave for shouting at one of the speakers and accusing him of being anti-China.

"I stood in front of her and said can you please go, trying to show her the way out. Then out of the blue she slapped me in the face," said the 24-year-old, who was born in Hong Kong but schooled in Britain. "I was... very shocked, as I was merely trying to escort her out... I didn't touch her."

He continued asking her to leave and she slapped him again, Mr Lieu alleged, saying the incident was only resolved when police arrived.

In a statement on Monday, police said: "The woman has been released from custody and investigations continue."

On Monday, the Chinese embassy posted on its website in English saying her ejection was "completely unacceptable". The state broadcaster said CCTV reporter Kong Linlin "was blocked and assaulted when she raised a question and expressed her opinion".

Asked if it planned to apologise, a Conservative Party spokesman said: "The individual concerned was removed from the conference centre and has had their pass revoked."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 03, 2018, with the headline 'China irked by incident at fringe Tory event'. Print Edition | Subscribe