A Hong Kong tabloid with links to the Chinese Communist Party has been accused of stalking a U.S.-Australian academic during his recent visit to Hong Kong, according to reports.
Dr. Kevin Carrico, who lectures on Chinese studies at Macquarie University in Sydney, had just arrived back in Australia on Dec. 17 when a friend sent him a link to the Hong Kong tabloid Wen Wei Po.
Its front page featured a number of stealth photos of Carrico himself with a lengthy article covering details of Carrico’s trip, including who he met and where he went. One photo showed him standing on the street in a suit. Another showed him at the airport about to leave Hong Kong, and yet another showed Carrico talking to a friend at a restaurant.
The tabloid claimed that Carrico has “close ties” with members of the Hong Kong independence organisation and “secretly” came to Hong Kong.
Grant Thought to Be a Factor Behind Week Long Stalk
Carrico, a U.S. citizen and an Australian permanent resident, recently received a large grant from the Australian government to research tensions emerging between Hong Kong and China, according to The Guardian.
“I spent the entire week having a faint sense that someone was following me. It was of course quite discomforting, he told The World, an Australian Broadcasting Corporation program.
“Was it Chinese state security, was it the Hong Kong police, was it someone else?” Carrico said. “It was actually a relief when these pictures were featured on the cover of Wen Wei Po, so that I can know that it was essentially Beijing-controlled media that had chosen to follow me for an entire, probably a very boring, week.”
He recalled how he first noticed a woman appearing to be in her 30s on several occasions during a Dec. 8 visit to Tung Chung, an area he described to have “growing tensions as a result of an influx of tourists from China in recent weeks.”
He told The World the woman “seemed to be essentially everywhere I went and, in a city of 7 million people, this isn’t something that happens very often.”
She’d followed him on a train, then to a shopping center, and almost to the men’s restroom at the bottom floor of the shopping center, according to the story.
Privacy Concerns Raised
When he rode the escalators from the bottom floor, he tried to take a photo of the woman who at the time was standing some distance behind him.
“She turned 180 degrees, essentially riding the escalator backward to avoid having me photograph her,” Carrico told The World.
He later tried to take another photo of her a second time but she hid behind a tree, according to The Guardian.
“Wen Wei Po is very, very closely linked with the liaison office, which is Beijing’s office in Hong Kong,” Carrico told The Guardian. “I don’t know if this is an attempt to build up pressure to get me banned from Hong Kong, or to intimidate me from returning to Hong Kong.”
He added the episode “raises some pretty major questions.”
“How did this newspaper know I was there? Do they have access to border control? How were they able to start following me the day after I arrived and how did they manage to keep a tail on me for what seems like an entire week?”