Hong Kong: The propaganda is working

Domestic News

The BBC reports that “squads of riot police” arrived at the Hong Kong International Airport shortly before midnight local time after a second day of protests that brought flight departures to a standstill. “At least three men were mobbed inside the airport by protesters,” according to the BBC, after protesters said they were “holding identity cards showing they were police officers from mainland China.”

Protesters bound the wrists of one of the men with cable ties. They went through his bags and found a blue “I ♥︎ police” T-shirt of the kind “worn by thugs last week” and proceeded to interrogate him aggressively. The man appeared to faint before eventually being taken away by paramedics. See this Twitter thread from CNN reporter James Griffiths for details of the incident.

Video footage was widely circulated, including in China, from where Hú Xījìn 胡锡进, editor of nationalistic rag Global Times, tweeted that the man was a Global Times “journalist.”

“Hong Kong terrorists besiege mainland tourists” (香港恐怖分子围攻内地游客 xiānggǎng kǒngbù fènzi wéigōng nèidì yóukè) became a trending hashtag on Weibo for several hours yesterday.

We can expect Beijing to milk this unfortunate incident for everything it’s worth: as the New York Times points out,

In recent days, China has more aggressively stirred up nationalist and anti-Western sentiment using state and social media, and it has manipulated the context of images and videos to undermine the protesters.

The propaganda is working. Beijing resident and ChinaEconTalk podcaster Jordan Schneider tweeted:

Seeing Peking University grads like and reshare articles on WeChat that blame the Hong Kong protests on the CIA has me as depressed as I’ve ever been about China’s future.


There is no doubt that Beijing intends to make life very difficult for Hongkongers who protest and companies that display even a flicker of sympathy for them. The question is: Will this second day of airport troubles and incidents such as the one described above begin to turn ordinary Hongkongers off the movement?

Mainland Chinese opinions of Hong Kong’s summer of discontent

Other reports from Hong Kong:

“A 14-year-old boy arrested outside Tsim Sha Tsui Police Station on Sunday became the youngest person charged in connection with the anti-government protests that have rocked Hong Kong,” says the South China Morning Post.

Swire Pacific, the company whose origins are in the opium trade and is a major shareholder in Cathay Pacific airlines, “was pressed into issuing its most strongly worded statement to date supporting the city’s place in China,” per the South China Morning Post.

The Hong Kong Real Estate Developers Association (Reda) yesterday issued a second statement condemning “anti-government protesters, accusing them of worsening the city’s economic slump and eroding its core values.” It must be pointed out that the business activities of Hong Kong developers have created one of the most expensive residential real estate markets in the world: $1.2 million is the average price of a Hong Kong home. Unhappiness about the unaffordability of housing is a major factor behind the mood of Hong Kong’s youth.

The United Nations Human Rights Office “has accused Hong Kong police of defying international norms and standards in their use of weapons, creating ‘a considerable risk of death or serious injury,’” reports the South China Morning Post.

“More than 1,000 health care staff from 13 public hospitals on Tuesday staged sit-in demonstrations at their workplace to condemn what they said was an excessive use of force by police in anti-government protests,” according to the South China Morning Post.