Government prosecutors said that there was insufficient evidence to convict 48-year-old Kong Linlin, a London-based correspondent of China’s official state broadcaster who made a name for herself in September while attending an event in Birmingham titled “The Erosion of Freedom, the Rule of Law and Autonomy in Hong Kong,” co-hosted by the UK’s Conservative Party Human Rights Commission and the London-based NGO Hong Kong Watch.
As Hong Kong Watch founder Benedict Rogers was speaking on stage, Kong brought the proceedings to a sudden halt by shouting at the top of her lungs, calling the panelists “puppets,” “fake Chinese,” and “traitors.”
When she 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!” and ”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 has been no video evidence published 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 said that their investigation was still ongoing.
Following the bizarre incident, both CCTV and the Chinese embassy in London defended Kong, demanding an apology from the event’s organizer and accusing the UK of failing to uphold its promises of freedom of speech.
In October, West Midlands police said that Kong would be ordered to appear at court in Birmingham in November in relation to the charge of common assault, prompting another official outcry. However, after reviewing the evidence, the Crown Prosecution Service made the determination that there was not a realistic prospect of conviction and therefore opted to discontinue the case against Kong.
While a display like the one made by Kong would likely get you fired from most media organizations, this isn’t the case for Chinese state media. Some argued that Kong’s outburst was not spontaneous, but calculated in order to boost her own career prospects. On social media, Kong quicklycast herself as the victim in the whole ordeal.
The incident suddenly turned the middle-aged state media reporter into a household name in her home country. While some criticized Kong for her lack of professionalism and choppy English, others cheered her on, hailing her as a national hero and proclaiming her a “modern-day Mulan.”
Though, at some point during the last month, this heroine turned her Twitter profile private.