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Chinese journalist charged in UK after slapping man at Conservative conference

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Chinese journalist charged in UK after slapping man at Conservative conference

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LONDON (Reuters) - A female Chinese reporter has been charged with assault after allegedly slapping a volunteer at an event on the sidelines of the UK's Conservative Party conference last month where they were discussing political freedoms in Hong Kong.

Kong Linlin, a 48-year-old reporter for the country's state-run broadcaster China Central Television, was arrested after the incident at the event that featured pro-democracy supporters from the former British colony.

West Midlands Police said she had been charged with common assault and will appear at Birmingham Magistrates Court on Nov. 7.

China Central Television, also known as CCTV, is Beijing’s largest TV network, with dozens of channels and ambitious plans to expand internationally.

Kong did not respond to a request for comment left at her company's offices in London.

Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a "one country, two systems" principle, with the guarantee of a high degree of autonomy and freedoms not enjoyed elsewhere in China.

But calls for outright independence are a red line for China's Communist Party leaders, who deem the global financial hub to be an inalienable part of the nation.

A spokesman for the Chinese government had previously described the reporter's treatment as "completely unacceptable" and said she herself was assaulted for asking questions.

(Reporting By Andrew MacAskill; editing by Stephen Addison)

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