Chinese state media has lambasted the US in the wake of unprecedented scenes at the Capitol last week, lambasting Washington as hypocrites by comparing the ugly events to Hong Kong’s recent civil unrest.
State tabloid Global Times wasted no time in its response to Wednesday’s riots by incensed Trump supporters, covering nearly every inch of its news site with scathing editorials and opinion pieces that will undoubtedly rub further salt into the wounds of the US.
Repeatedly stating the US’s global image was in disarray amid a “long-term decline”, while hitting out at its “arrogant” double standards, it was evident the US was perceived as an easy target.
However Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying defended such intense coverage on a widely-reported event, insisting it isn’t propaganda.
“Why are factual reports by the Chinese media being labeled propaganda or even disinformation? Is it simply because some people in the United States find them unpalatable?” she asked on Friday.
Yet the Global Times, under the tutelage of outspoken editor-in-chief Hu Xijin, is renowned for its relentless and targeted attacks on China’s foes, a repercussion Australia has become all too familiar with in recent months as Sino-Australian relations rapidly deteriorate.
“Chinese netizens jeer riot in US Capitol as 'Karma’, say bubbles of 'democracy and freedom' have burst,” one headline read.
The publication appeared most enraged by a perceived sense of double standards, focusing on House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi's comments during the Hong Kong protests where she called the demonstrations a “beautiful sight to behold”.
On Thursday morning, the Global Times tweeted side-by-side photo comparisons of Hong Kong protesters occupying the city's Legislative Council Complex in July 2019 with Wednesday's Washington riots.
The latter saw hardcore Trump fans invade the US Capitol to protest the election defeat, taking selfies, scuffling with security and ransacking parts of the building.
.@SpeakerPelosi once referred to the Hong Kong riots as "a beautiful sight to behold" — it remains yet to be seen whether she will say the same about the recent developments in Capitol Hill. pic.twitter.com/91iXDzYpcO
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) January 7, 2021
The publication hit out at a tendency in the Western world to “point their fingers at China” in the wake of internal crises.
“Some [elites and mainstream media] claim the ‘enemy of democracy’ will be happy to see and gloat over the chaos in the Capitol, in an attempt to provoke Americans and mobilise people's will to unite,” one article read.
“This is a true portrayal of US political weakness. As the only superpower in world, the US is meant to be open-minded, tolerant and inclusive.
“Its own development and self-management should be calm and orderly, and it should leverage its abundant domestic resources to achieve balanced self-management.
“But now, whenever an unwanted domestic incident occurs, the US cannot wait to find ways to shift the blame to either China or Russia. Its narrative of self-superiority and complaints over the damage it suffers from outside forces combine, creating a very weird ideology.”
Chinese people have their say on US riots
The Global Times swept Chinese social media in the wake of the incident to offer a snapshot of the narrative shared by China’s 1.4 billion people whose voice has been suppressed by Beijing on Western platforms.
“Many Chinese netizens ‘confessed’ in their comments that they saw the ‘chaos in the US’ as revenge. After inciting so much chaos around the world under the pretext of ‘freedom and democracy’, the US finally tasted the ‘karma’ of its double standards,” it explained.
The hashtag "Trump supporters storm US Capitol" pinballed across Weibo on Thursday, racking up 230 million views, as users compared the global support for Hong Kong's protesters with the outpouring of condemnation for the pro-Trump mob.
“At present, all European countries' leaders have shown double standards and condemned it (Washington rioting),” one Weibo comment read, which gained more than 5,000 likes.
“I don’t know what kind of double-standard reports will be carried by Hong Kong or Taiwan media this time.”
“What happened in the Hong Kong Legislative Council last year is being repeated in the US Capitol,” another user wrote in a comment with more than 4,500 likes.
Chinese media questions US’s free speech
And while China has banned its population from using sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, the Global Times questioned where the US’s free speech stood after Trump’s Twitter account was suspended.
“Does the silencing of Trump breach the principle of freedom of speech?” it asked.
“No matter what the first amendment says, that Trump cannot express his opinions on social networks and lost the right that every ordinary American enjoys definitely violates the principle of freedom of speech endorsed by US political elites.
“‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.’ This is how the US, as ‘the beacon of freedom’, has lectured the world.”
Hong Kong–Washington comparison
While the tactics were similar, there are stark differences in the causes and motivations of the two legislature stormings.
Hong Kong protesters broke into their legislature to demand full democracy and halt an unpopular bill that was being pushed through by the city's unelected leadership.
The semi-autonomous Chinese city is not a democracy, the cause of years of popular protests.
China has since responded with a crackdown, imposing a harsh security law on the restless city, arresting scores of critics and smothering dissent.
In contrast, those storming the US Capitol were trying to overturn the results of what has been declared a free and fair presidential election.
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