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Fact Check

AFP
September 14, 2019

Fact-check: Hong Kong activist seeks protection from foreign armies?

Fact Check

AFP
Sat, Sep 14, 2019

A photo of Hong Kong activist Agnes Chow holding a piece of paper displaying a message that purportedly seeks protection from the Japanese, American and British armies amid the city’s ongoing protests has been shared hundreds of times in multiple posts on Facebook and Twitter. The claim is false; the image has been doctored -- Chow was holding an election document in the original photograph.

The photo was published here on Facebook on September 8, 2019. It has been shared almost 500 times after it was published to a group named the “Hong Kong traitor activity observation group”, which has almost 10,000 members.

The post's traditional Chinese language caption translates to English as: "If I were Agnes Chow's parents, I'd disown her!

“Why does ugly Chow seek help from Japan? Has she not studied the brutal history of Japan's invasion of China? So embarrassing! Hong Kong Chinese don't want you!”

Chow, a Hong Kong pro-democracy activist, is seen holding a piece of paper with the following message, which translates to English as:

"Hong Kong is being attacked by aliens. I'd like to request protection from our neighbour Japan's Self-Defense Forces. It'd be best if the US and UK also send their armies, so we can carry on fighting because the aliens have developed advanced technology".

Below is a screenshot of the misleading Facebook post: 

The majority of Facebook users commenting on the post appear to believe the text was genuine, with many accusing Chow of inviting foreign powers to invade Hong Kong.

Below is a screenshot of a flurry of derogatory comments underneath the post, which call Chow a “traitor”, a “shameless dog” who was born to a “mother and grandmothers who were comfort women”:

The same photo has also been shared here on Facebook and here and here on Twitter alongside a similar claim.

The claim is false; the photo has been doctored to alter the text on an election document Chow was holding.

A reverse image search on Google found the original photo published in this March 14, 2018, report by Hong Kong newspaper Sing Tao Daily.

A screenshot of the image included in the article is shown below: 

Chow is seen standing in front of the same group of people but holding a piece of paper showing different text.

The news report's traditional Chinese language headline translates to English as: “Agnes Chow to file election petition following by-election disqualification”.

The photo caption translates to English as: “Agnes Chow displays a document from the election officer which states she’s disqualified from running”.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the photo in the misleading post (L) and the one published by Sing Tao Daily (R) with the similar areas circled in red by AFP:

The photo shown above right reappeared on September 2, 2019, in this report published by Hong Kong newspaper The Standard.

The report states in part: “Demosisto leader Agnes Chow Ting won her legal challenge in the High Court over being barred from standing in a 2018 Legislative Council by-election – unseating the pro-democracy camp's eventual winner in the poll, Au Nok-hin, in the process.

“In January last year, a returning officer for Hong Kong Island ruled that Chow was not fit to run for the Legco seat left empty when the group's Nathan Law was disqualified over the way he took his oath of office.”

Close-up shots of the document, entitled “Notice of Decision as to Validity of Nomination”, can be seen at the 31-second mark of this video of a press conference Chow held on January 31, 2018. The video is embedded below. 

Chow previously urged Japan to help put pressure on the Hong Kong government in withdrawing the extradition bill, Japanese newspaper The Japan Times reported here on June 11, 2019.