Chinese officials tried to use violence, which spread across the United States over the weekend, to troll President Donald Trump, whose administration, just last week, took a strong stand against China’s decision to exert political control over Hong Kong.
In a series of social media posts over the weekend, Chinese information ministers and media loyalists tried desperately to connect the unrest in cities like Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., to anti-Chinese, pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, which China is now trying to extinguish with a series of draconian legislative measures.
Bloomberg reports that “China’s foreign ministry and state media seized the opportunity to fire back at Trump. Chinese propaganda outlets played up scenes from the U.S. of violence, burning buildings, harsh police responses, and protesters decrying government as part of a broader narrative that western democracies are regularly plagued by chaos and unrest that would never be permitted in the mainland.”
In some cases, Chinese officials got involved in the trolling directly. Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying even retweeted a State department official urging global democracies to stand firm against Chinese communism and added the quote, “I can’t breathe” — an obvious reference to George Floyd, whose death at the hands of Minneapolis police sparked the nationwide protests.
Perennial Chinese social media gadfly, Zhao Lijian, who was, last week, censored by Twitter for spreading false information about the origins of the novel coronavirus, even joined in: “Why does the U.S. beautify the so-called Hong Kong independence and violent elements as heroes and fighters while it calls its own people protesting against racial discrimination ‘rioters’?” he said in a news briefing, per Bloomberg. “Why does the U.S. point fingers at the constrained law enforcement by Hong Kong police but turn a blind eye to what happens at home while using shooting and even the National Guard against the protesters?”
The differences are, of course, stark. Most major cities used the National Guard only as a last resort to curtail looting and rioting that protesters say were unaffiliated with anti-police brutality demonstrations, and, instead, used those demonstrations as a cover.
Hong Kong residents have been fighting Chinese incursion for months now, battling first an effort to allow Chinese intelligence agencies to conduct surveillance on “dissidents” and enemies of the Communist state hiding on the island, and now, opposing a draconian effort by the Chinese government to strip Hong Kong residents of their rights and place Hong Kong back under Chinese control.
The United States has led a global effort to oppose China’s incursion, threatening, last week, to impose strict economic sanctions on China if it defied its U.N.-ratified treaty with the United Kingdom, guaranteeing basic human rights to the people of Hong Kong upon the island’s transfer from British control in the mid-1990s. On Thursday, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and other nations issued a joint statement warning China to drop its effort to reintegrate Hong Kong or face repercussions.
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