Stung by U.S.-led criticism of Beijing’s attempts to crack down on dissent in Hong Kong, Chinese officials and state media are using reports of protests in American cities to make political points about U.S. “double standards and hypocrisy.”
The Trump administration and lawmakers from both parties have been outspoken in their criticism of the suppression of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and China’s plans to impose new security legislation on the territory. Hong Kong protests have occasionally seen violent flare-ups, and authorities regularly accuse the U.S. of stoking them as a way of indirectly attacking China.
Now, as images rioting in the U.S. are seen around the world, Chinese critics have seized on the opportunity to divert attention away from Beijing’s stifling of Hong Kong’s freedoms – and for payback.
The protests were sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man who died May 25 at the hands of a white policeman in Minneapolis, but in numerous instances have been hijacked by elements bent on looting, vandalism and arson. “Groups of outside radicals and agitators are exploiting the situation to pursue their own separate, violent, and extremist agenda,” Attorney General Bill Barr said on Sunday.
Over the weekend, State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus posted a tweet calling China’s plan to impose a security law on Hong Kong “a pivotal moment” and adding, “Freedom loving people around the world must stand with the rule of law and hold to account the Chinese Communist Party, which has flagrantly broken its promises to the people of Hong Kong.”
A couple of hours later, Ortagus’ Chinese counterpart, Hua Chunying, retweeted that message, adding her own pointed comment: “I can’t breathe.” Those were reportedly some of Floyd’s last words, captured on camera as a policeman knelt on his neck.
CCP media outlets weighed in, characterizing what law enforcement are dealing with on American streets as comeuppance for U.S. criticism of Chinese actions in Hong Kong.