A former newspaper editor in Hong Kong, whose recent removal prompted anti-Beijing protests, is fighting for his life after being stabbed by unknown attackers.
Hong Kong police say Kevin Lau was walking to his car early Wednesday in the Sai Wan Ho neighborhood when he was attacked by assailants who escaped on a motorcycle. He is in critical condition.
Lau was fired last month as the editor of the Ming Pao newspaper, which is known for its investigative journalism and hard-hitting coverage of Chinese politics. He was replaced by a pro-Beijing editor.
The removal, along with several similar cases, have raised fresh concerns over deteriorating press freedom and mainland China's rising influence in the semi-autonomous territory.
The Hong Kong Journalists Association condemned the attack on Lau "in the strongest terms" and urged authorities to bring the attackers to justice "as quickly as possible to allay public fears."
Hong Kong officials also expressed shock at the incident, including the territory's chief secretary, Carrie Lam.
"I feel shocked and sad. Hong Kong is a society ruled by law. Such violent behavior cannot be tolerated. This should be condemned by the whole of society."
In a statement, Hong Kong Chief Executive C.Y. Leung said he was "outraged" and "indignant" over the attack. He said the territory "will not tolerate this kind of violence" and will bring the assailants to justice.
In recent weeks, thousands have turned out at various protests outside the office of the mainland-friendly Leung, urging him keep his promises to uphold freedom of the press.
Journalists say they are increasingly pressured, often directly by Hong Kong officials, to write only positive articles about the Chinese Communist Party. They say those who comply are rewarded, and those who do not, are often fired.
The former British colony, which was returned to China in 1997, has enjoyed a high degree of autonomy and its citizens are still able to exercise political rights not allowed on the mainland.