A mainland journalist assaulted by anti-government protesters at Hong Kong International Airport received a hero’s welcome from dozens of supporters, after being discharged from hospital on Wednesday.
Fu Guohao, a reporter with Chinese state newspaper Global Times, was kicked and hit with umbrellas repeatedly by protesters on Tuesday night after refusing to show his press credentials, and was found with a T-shirt in his backpack featuring the slogan “I love HK police”.
Another man, who protesters believed was an undercover agent from mainland China, was earlier released from North Lantau Hospital, in Tung Chung. Protesters, who found him carrying wooden sticks, had bound his hands with cable-ties.
Fu, who was wearing a white T-shirt and a face mask, spoke to media briefly before leaving Princess Margaret Hospital, in Kwai Chung, around midday.
“In Hong Kong, I complied with everything a citizen should do. I didn’t do anything unlawful or behave in a way that would stir up controversy,” he said. “I think I should not be treated violently.
“I did not suffer from any serious injuries, but I felt pain in my head and hands.”
When he was asked why he had not revealed he was a journalist when surrounded by protesters he said it was “for self-protection”.
He also denied asking protesters to hit him, although he was heard asking them to do so on a video.
Fu got into a car and left as supporters shouted “real hero” and “we support you”.
People from various government-friendly groups arrived at the hospital to show their support, with some bringing bouquets of flowers and a fruit basket.
Around a dozen of them wore red T-shirts that carried the message, “I support Hong Kong police, you can hit me now”.
“Support Hong Kong police to enforce law,” chanted the group, which consisted mostly of middle-aged men and women.
There were also people holding placards that read “maintain the rule of law”, “against violence” and “penalise the assailants”.
A Facebook post said a group of people in red T-shirts had harassed health care staff at the hospital.
Jiang Zaizhong, chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of Journalists, said he felt shocked and angry when watching television footage of the attack.
“Mr Fu Guohao is a mainland journalist,” he said. “He came to Hong Kong through legal channels to do reporting. He was doing proper news reporting, therefore his freedom to report and safety should be protected.”
He said protesters who surrounded Fu had been involved in “illegal detention” and “cruel beating”, and his group had asked police to penalise those people according to the law.
Stanley Ng Chau-pei, chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, said a person should not be attacked, regardless of who they were.
“No one should be detained illegally, searched and attacked,” Ng said. “These have contravened basic human rights.”
Hong Kong Tour Guides General Union chairman Wong Ka-ngai, who went to the hospital with other representatives from the travel sector, accused protesters of being involved in a “lynching”.
He said the travel sector had been seriously affected by the non-cooperation movement, and around 1,000 local tour guides had already stopped working.
Additional reporting by Victor Ting