The Epoch Times, a US-based media outlet, is reporting on Twitter that its Hong Kong print office has come under an attack by arsonists.
Staff managed to put out the fire, but only after effecting significant damage. #CCP involvement suspected, given @hk_epochtimes truthful and transparent coverage of the #HongKongProstests. pic.twitter.com/CQe0jaAcRq
— The Epoch Times (@EpochTimes) November 19, 2019
A video from security cameras shows a group of masked men dressed in black entering the premises of the print shop, pouring a flammable liquid over newspapers and machines, and setting them on fire. The flames were contained and extinguished, but there has been significant material damage, the Epoch Times said.
The multi-language newspaper founded by a group of Chinese Americans has been providing detailed reporting from the Hong Kong protests that have flared up in recent days, and suspects that China's authorities are behind the arson attack.
The Epoch Times describes itself as independent, and its coverage of the protests as “honest and thorough” – and is in the wake of the print shop incident pointing the finger at the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The newspaper has been critical of China's authorities for their repressive policies, as well as shedding light on the inner workings of the CCP itself – an approach it believes may have inconvenienced the regime to the point of taking this type of action. All this, the outlet believes, is reason to suspect that the attack was an attempt to intimidate and silence the Epoch Times at a time of rising tensions in the autonomous territory.
This isn't the first time that the premises of this media outlet have been attacked – it happened four times since 2009, Epoch pointed out. The newspaper's Hong Kong edition spokesperson Cheryl Ng condemned the incident and called it “a crime against press freedom in Hong Kong.”
Ng also saw attempts at sowing confusing, since two of the attackers were clad in attire similar to that worn by protesters. This sentiment was echoed by the edition's director Guo Jun, who thinks the CCP is probably attempting to frame the protesters.
Comments left on the newspaper's Twitter post echo this sentiment, suspecting that the CCP is employing its paramilitaries to “kill two birds with one stone” – blame the protesters, and disrupt a newspaper critical of its policies, an of the police brutality seen during the ongoing Hong Kong demonstrations.