Editor’s note for Monday, June 1, 2020


Dear Access member,

There was a restrained Chinese government response to U.S. president Donald Trump’s speech on Friday that announced the U.S. would no longer treat Hong Kong as distinct from the People’s Republic and other measures: Beijing told state firms to halt purchases of major U.S. farm products according to Reuters, and at today’s Foreign Ministry briefing in Beijing, spokesperson Zhào Lìjiān 赵立坚 announced China’s firm opposition and promised that “Any words or actions by the U.S. that harm China’s interests will meet with China’s firm counterattack.”

Less restrained was the official Chinese reaction to the widespread protests in the U.S. this weekend: Chinese state media and diplomats publicly delighted over the weekend in the scenes of protest and violence on American streets — see our top story below for details, or for a quick visual dose of schadenfreude, see this graphic of the Statue of Liberty as a neck-crushing cop from the People’s Daily (sarcastically captioned “Under human rights” 人權之下 rénquán zhī xià).

Meanwhile in Hong Kong, the police have banned the annual June 4 vigil marking the 1989 massacre for the first time in 30 years, citing coronavirus public gathering restrictions, per Hong Kong Free Press. Wall Street Journal reporter Te-Ping Chen commented on Twitter: “Deeply sad. It’s hard to think of any fixtures that were more indelibly Hong Kong than the vigil, which was about Tiananmen, yes — but even more so an extraordinary symbol of the city’s freedom and its values.”

Our word of the day is America riots (美国暴乱 měiguó bàoluàn), the translation of a top-trending hashtag on Weibo over the weekend discussing the protests and unrest in multiple U.S. cities over the police killing of George Floyd, police brutality, and racial injustice. See story #2 below for more on the Chinese social media reaction to U.S. unrest.

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief