Protesters return to Hong Kong streets, Beijing revels in scenes of U.S. unrest

Domestic News

Thousands of anti-government protesters returned to Hong Kong's streets last week after months of COVID-19-induced social distancing. Meanwhile, Chinese state media and diplomats reveled in the violence unfolding on American streets following the police killing of George Floyd.

SupChina illustration by Derek Zheng

Thousands of anti-government protesters returned to Hong Kong streets last week after months of COVID-19-induced social distancing following Beijing’s unveiling of draft national security legislation for the city that would see the death of “one country, two systems.” Despite the outrage in Hong Kong and criticism from the U.S. and the U.K., China’s legislature subsequently voted to approve the proposal on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Chinese state media and diplomats, including multiple spokespeople of the Chinese foreign ministry, publicly delighted over the weekend in the scenes of protest and violence on American streets following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis a week ago.

“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,” Bloomberg reports (porous paywall).

The U.S. protests expose a “failed state,” said the Global Times, said Floyd’s murder “exposes rotten racism in the U.S.,” and published a commentary in Chinese titled, “The U.S. is a country of deeply marginalized and vulnerable groups.”  The China Daily wrote two editorials about “Systemic racism, inept administration…in U.S.” and how “Racism stains U.S. claims to greatness.”

Comparisons to Hong Kong and accusations of hypocrisy were also common. Chinese state media and foreign ministry figureheads trolled American officials, accusing them of double standards.

  • “I can’t breathe,” tweeted foreign ministry spokesperson Huà Chūnyíng 华春莹 on Saturday, May 30, quoting an American protest slogan in response to her U.S. counterpart criticizing China’s national security law in Hong Kong.
  • “Why does the U.S. refer to those ‘Hong Kong independence’ and black-clad rioters as ‘heroes’ and ‘fighters’ but label its people protesting against racial discrimination as ‘thugs’?…This double-standard way of behaving is so typical of the U.S.,” said foreign ministry spokesperson Zhào Lìjiān 赵立坚 today.
  • The Global Times troll-in-chief Hú Xījìn 胡锡进 tweeted an image of violent clashes with police and commented, “The ‘beautiful sight’ defined by U.S. politicians has eventually extended from Hong Kong to the U.S. Now they can witness it by their home windows. I want to ask Speaker Pelosi and Secretary Pompeo: Should Beijing support protests in the U.S., like you glorified rioters in Hong Kong?”
  • Hu also published an editorial titled Watch out! ‘Beautiful sight’ in HK is spreading across the US, and followed up with an apparently sarcastic tweet suggesting that “Vicious HK rioters obviously are mastermind of violent protests across the U.S.”