Chinese state media took aim at the US government over the weekend as many American cities were gripped by raging protests and clashes, comparing the unrest with the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.
Beijing has long been infuriated by criticism from Western capitals, especially Washington, over its handling of the pro-democracy protests that shook Hong Kong last year.
And as unrest erupted across the United States over racial inequality and police brutality after the death during arrest of an unarmed African American man, Chinese government spokespeople and official media launched broadsides against American authorities.
“US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi once called the violent protests in Hong Kong ‘a beautiful sight to behold.’… US politicians now can enjoy this sight from their own windows,” Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of nationalist tabloid Global Times, wrote Saturday.
It was “as if the radical rioters in Hong Kong somehow snuck into the US and created a mess like they did last year”, he added.
China has insisted that “foreign forces” are to blame for the turmoil in Hong Kong, where pro-democracy protesters – described by Beijing as rioters – have marched in the millions since June last year and often clashed with the police.
Beijing sparked outrage and concern earlier this month with a plan to impose a law on Hong Kong that it said was needed to protect national security and curb “terrorism”, but was condemned by pro-democracy activists and Western nations as another attempt to chip away at the city’s unique freedoms.
Following President Donald Trump’s announcement that he would strip Hong Kong of its special privileges, a commentary published Sunday in China Daily – a mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party – said US politicians dreamed of “victimising” China.
“Better give up that dream and come back to reality,” it said.
“Violence is spreading across the US… US politicians should do their jobs and help solve problems in the US, instead of trying to create new problems and troubles in other countries.”
The back-and-forth over Hong Kong has exacerbated US-China tensions, which were already high over a number of issues – including trade and the coronavirus pandemic, over which Trump has accused Beijing of a lack of transparency.
As violence broke out in the US over the weekend, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying also took aim at Washington on Saturday.
“I can’t breathe,” she said on Twitter, with a screenshot of a tweet by US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus that had criticised the Chinese government over its Hong Kong policy.
Hua was quoting the words George Floyd was heard saying repeatedly before his death – after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes – which sparked the current unrest in the United States.