The former chief editor of a Hong Kong newspaper whose dismissal in January stirred protests about press freedom in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory was stabbed Wednesday morning, the police said.
Kevin Lau, the former chief editor of Ming Pao, was stabbed by an attacker who fled with an accomplice on a motorbike, the Hong Kong police said. He was listed in serious condition at a local hospital, with his wife telling the South China Morning Post that he had been stabbed three times. The attack happened shortly after 10 a.m. as Mr. Lau was walking to his car in the Sai Wan Ho neighborhood.
Mr. Lau’s ouster led to noisy protests by journalists and others who feared that his departure reflected the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to subdue the territory’s independent media.
Under Mr. Lau, Ming Pao investigated the death of a mainland dissident who many suspect was murdered despite his death being ruled a suicide. It recently took part in an investigation by the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists published in January that showed the relatives of several senior Chinese leaders, including President Xi Jinping and former Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, owned stakes in companies registered with offshore tax havens including the British Virgin Islands.
Francis Moriarty, the head of the press freedom committee of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Hong Kong, called the attack “shocking” and noted that it came after several less serious attacks on journalists in Hong Kong and just three days after a protest over concerns about press freedom in the territory. In one notable incident last year, assailants crashed a car into the home of Jimmy Lai, a media mogul critical of Beijing who founded Next Media, and they left a machete and ax in his driveway.
“This is a serious escalation,” Mr. Moriarty said of Tuesday’s attack.
Others called the attack disturbing no matter what the motive turns out to be.
“It doesn’t matter what the motives are, it’s just not acceptable,’’ said Yuen Chan, a lecturer in journalism at Chinese University of Hong Kong, adding that she didn’t have any information on why Mr. Lau was attacked. “There have been incidents where media people have been attacked, it’s not the first one – it’s very, very disturbing.’’
In Sunday’s demonstration, at least 1,600 people turned out to support press freedom in Hong Kong, with organizers citing such concerns as the recent dismissal of a popular radio host and claims by local media outlets that they are losing advertising from mainland Chinese businesses because of their editorial positions.
The attack on Mr. Lau comes as Hong Kong-mainland Chinese tensions have been building amid increasing fears over Beijing’s widening political and cultural influence over the former British colony.
Starting in June, a series of large demonstrations are planned, including one to mark the 25th anniversary of the crackdown of the Tiananmen protests in Beijing and others to press demands for universal suffrage in electing the territory’s leaders.
Source: NY Times