“Hey Guy,Who threat who ? Don’t play the far right wing game with me,” CCTV reporter Kong Linlin, 48, commented underneath a Buzzfeed story about her own arrest, casting herself as the victim in the latest drama to consume Chinese social media.
Hey Guy,Who threat who ? Don’t play the far right wing game with me. pic.twitter.com/U17VGPikGY
— Linlin Kong (@LinlinKong) October 2, 2018
Titled, “The Erosion of Freedom, the Rule of Law and Autonomy in Hong Kong,” the event attended by Kong was co-hosted by the UK’s Conservative Party Human Rights Commission and the London-based NGO Hong Kong Watch and took place on Sunday on the sidelines of the Conservative Party’s annual conference in Birmingham. Also in attendance were various party members, as well as lobbyists, human rights activists, and Hong Kong pro-democracy figures including Nathan Law and Benny Tai.
Kong brought the event to a sudden halt by shouting at the top of her lungs while Benedict Rogers, founder of Hong Kong Watch, was speaking, calling the panelists “puppets,” “fake Chinese,” and “traitors.”
When Kong continued shrieking and refused to leave the event, volunteers and attendees attempted to escort her out. Video shows her making a scene while being restrained, shouting out things like: “You are a puppet!” “Shame on you!” “Leave me alone!” “You have no right!” ”Oh, how democratic UK!”
One volunteer, Enoch Lieu, a Hong Kong-born graduate of Keele University, claims that Kong slapped him in the face twice during the struggle. There is no video evidence of either of the face slaps, though footage does show Kong slapping Lieu once in the hand.
In the end, Kong was taken away by police and arrested on suspicion of common assault. She was released without charges 24 hours later, though local police have said that their investigation is still ongoing. CCTV has claimed that pressure from the Chinese embassy in London secured Kong’s release, but police have not confirmed that claim.
In the aftermath, both CCTV and the Chinese embassy defended Kong, demanding an apology from the event’s organizer and accusing the UK of failing to uphold its promises of freedom of speech.
Meanwhile, Kong has received the support of other Chinese state media figures including none other than Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin, who tweeted: “Why can’t Chinese reporters have the right to ask questions and express opinion at this conference? Why views from mainland were rejected?”
Why can't Chinese reporters have the right to ask questions and express opinion at this conference? Why views from mainland were rejected? For future conference of such, please invite me to participate.😊 https://t.co/l0fzIySdIM
— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) October 1, 2018
On her Twitter page, Kong has retweeted posts which cast her as the victim in the brouhaha, including an article from the extremely questionable website Eurasia Future which carries the headline: “Female Chinese Journalist Savagely Manhandled at Imperialist Event on Hong Kong Held in England.”
— Adam Garrie (@adamgarriereal) October 1, 2018
Here’s the author’s Twitter page:
Kong also retweeted two posts from the Twitter account of the nationalistic Sino subreddit where the account posted screenshots of arguments it had with both Rogers and Lieu:
Benedict Rogers followed, got destroyed, blocked and ran.@LinlinKong @thepointwithlx @zlj517 @WangGuanCGTN @chinascio @huanxinzhao @chenweihua4 @beltandroad1 @BeltandRoadDesk @HuXijin_GT @jtao98 @wangxiangweihk @du_yubin @zhangshileicctv @USA_China_Talk @fengcheng_ccc pic.twitter.com/XppvzvLhbu
— r/Sino (@SinoReddit) October 2, 2018
Enoch Lieu demands proof he push female journalist. Instant regret@LinlinKong @thepointwithlx @zlj517 @WangGuanCGTN @chinascio @huanxinzhao @chenweihua4 @beltandroad1 @BeltandRoadDesk @HuXijin_GT @jtao98 @wangxiangweihk @du_yubin @zhangshileicctv @USA_China_Talk @fengcheng_ccc pic.twitter.com/GfgVxv9AO3
— r/Sino (@SinoReddit) October 2, 2018
While for most journalists such a scandal would seriously threaten their career prospects, it appears that Kong would like to keep her own drama going for as long as possible. AtForeign Policy, Asia editor James Palmer argues that this may be because her behavior was not a “spontaneous outburst of outraged patriotism but a deliberately performative event, intended to boost her own career.”
“Even if Kong fails to go viral, it will still give her clout within the CGTN hierarchy, making her more likely to be promoted and less vulnerable to political attacks from others,” Palmer explains, speculating that Kong, who has attacked Western media in the past, was likely inspired by last month’s drama in Sweden where a Chinese family created an international incident after getting kicked out of a Stockholm hostel.
As a bonus, Kong has gone viral. The incident has suddenly turned the middle-aged state media reporter into a household name in her home country. While some have criticized Kong for her lack of professionalism and choppy English, others have cheered her on, hailing her as a national hero and proclaiming her a “modern-day Mulan.”