Chinese officials and state media needled the Trump administration over race-related protests and looting that have engulfed U.S. cities in recent days, after weathering criticism and threats from Washington over Beijing’s own moves to quell unrest in Hong Kong.
China’s leaders recently moved to impose sweeping new national security legislation on the Asian financial hub following months of violent pro-democracy protests last year. The decision has alarmed foreign governments and prompted the U.S. to threaten retaliation, including Friday’s announcement that it would “begin the process” of eliminating the policy exemptions that allow America to treat Hong Kong differently than the mainland.
Yet as President Donald Trump expressed alarm about the “deeply troubling” situation in Hong Kong, he soon found himself facing similar scenes on the U.S.’s own streets. The U.S. is now struggling to contain widespread protests triggered by outrage over the death of George Floyd, an African-American man who died after a white police officer held him to the ground and pressed a knee into his neck for more than eight minutes.
Over the weekend, 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.
Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying retweeted U.S. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus — who had urged people to stand against the Communist Party over its treatment of Hong Kong — and added “I can’t breathe,” some of the last words uttered by Floyd before he died that have become a rallying cry.
“I can’t breathe.” pic.twitter.com/UXHgXMT0lk
— Hua Chunying 华春莹 (@SpokespersonCHN) May 30, 2020
Hua then tweeted a link to a video report on the U.S. violence with the words “THUGS & HEROES HYPOCRISY.” The tweet was a reference to double standards over the Hong Kong protesters, who received praise from U.S. lawmakers as China repeatedly condemned them for acts of vandalism, arson and throwing petrol bombs at police.
On Chinese mico-blogging platform Sina Weibo, video clips showing Minneapolis police shooting paint rounds at residents on their porch for violating a curfew went viral in the mainland after being posted by top state media outlets including the People’s Daily newspaper and the Global Times.
By Monday morning, “U.S. National Guard firing into residents homes” was one of the top 10 search topics on the Twitter-like service, and the hashtag “U.S. riot” had a total of 1.36 billion views.
“U.S. politicians call riots in other countries ‘a beautiful sight,’ they ignite flames everywhere and wish the world to be in chaos,” state broadcaster CCTV said separately in a commentary Saturday. “But when the minority groups in their own country are fighting for legitimate rights, they cannot wait but to crackdown harshly. Such hypocritical double standards are truly disgusting.”
In a series of tweets, Hu Xijin, the editor of the Global Times, ridiculed Trump and other senior U.S. politicians for previously encouraging the protests in Hong Kong.
“I want to ask Speaker Pelosi and Secretary Pompeo: Should Beijing support protests in the US, like you glorified rioters in Hong Kong?” he asked in one message, addressing U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo.
The ‘beautiful sight’ difined by US politicians has eventually extended from Hong Kong to the US. Now they can witness it by their home windows. I want to ask Speaker Pelosi and Secretary Pompeo: Should Beijing support protests in the US, like you glorified rioters in Hong Kong? pic.twitter.com/tvg0kyK8j0
— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) May 30, 2020
In another sarcastic tweet, he wrote “I highly suspect that Hong Kong rioters have infiltrated American states. Attacking police stations, smashing shops, blocking roads, breaking public facilities, these are all routine in their protests. Vicious HK rioters obviously are mastermind of violent protests across the U.S.”
— With assistance by Jing Li
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