China: Peaceful Hong Kong Protesters ‘Must Pay the Price for Extremism’

DALE DE LA REY/AFP/Getty Images
DALE DE LA REY/AFP/Getty Images

China’s state-run media outlets have launched a coordinated attack on the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, accusing them of extreme violence on Monday and warning that protesters “must pay the price” of demanding freedom from communism the morning after a pro-China mob sent at least 45 people to the hospital.

The Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda outlets have remained largely silent about the events in Yuen Long, a rural area outside of central Hong Kong city where, following a protest, a large group of armed, masked people in white shirts attacked protesters attempting to take mass transit home following their march. Instead, state media have focused on protesters hurling eggs at Beijing’s main office in central Hong Kong and subsequent protests in which, protesters say, police attacked them with tear gas and rubber bullets despite the crowd not posing a threat.

Hong Kong is close to ending its second month of ceaseless protests against the Chinese Communist Party. Pro-democracy organizers began to take to the streets in early June in response to a proposed law that would have allowed China to extradite any individual present in Hong Kong if China accuses them of violating Chinese law. Chinese law has strict restrictions on civil and political freedoms, like the right to practice religion freely or criticize the government. Hong Kong residents expressed fear the law would allow China to extradite anyone heard publicly criticizing communism.

In the chaos following the initial protests against the bill, Chief Executive Carrie Lam “tabled” the bill, which removes it from the Legislative Council (LegCo) but allows any lawmaker to immediately revive it. In response, protesters are now asking for LegCo to withdraw the bill entirely, free imprisoned protesters, and correct its description of the peaceful protests as “riots.” Some are calling for Lam to resign, something she has insisted she would not consider.

China’s Global Times, a state-operated publication, called the protesters “ridiculous” in a column Monday for having “attempted to achieve freedom of speech and rule of law by means of street politics.”
“It is sad to see those young people overlook the strong advice of history but insist on following the wrong track. They would put Hong Kong’s and their developments at risk rather than admit to the proven right route for Hong Kong,” the column read.

The Times accused the protesters of resorting to violence and insisted China must punish them for seeking distance from Beijing’s repressive rule.

Those young protestors in Hong Kong tried to have their appeal accepted by using violence. Their extreme actions have deeply damaged the Hong Kong they love. They must pay the price for their extremism. This is the unchallengeable bottom line of society with the rule of law. They must learn a lesson to take responsibility and get the punishment they deserve. Hong Kong must not concede anymore in terms of the rule of law: the basis for the city’s civilization.

In another piece – a report rather than an opinion column – the Global Times claimed that protesters in Sai Wan committed acts of violence, referring to the vandalizing of the Beijing liaison office in that area on Sunday. Sai Wan is on Hong Kong island, part of the region’s metropolitan center. The newspaper insisted that coordination to make sure that protesters had essential items like water and helmets to protect from police were proof that the protesters intended to engage in coordinated violence against Beijing.

“Using the peaceful rally as a front, radical protesters in Hong Kong were well prepared to turn the ‘peaceful’ protest into a riot on Sunday,” the newspaper alleged. “Protesters chased passengers who were not in black shirts, and also threatened journalists who took photos of the damage they were creating.”
“After damaging facilities and defacing the national emblem at the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in Hong Kong, most protesters moved to Sheung Wan, a central business district of the city, and turned the place into a ‘war zone’ armed with iron sticks, and tore down huge signs,” the newspaper claimed. “The police used very limited force to disperse them. However, the protesters not only did things to insult the country and damage public facilities, but also used journalists as human shields to attack the police.”

Unbiased reports from Sheung Wan, where not even police offered a count of anyone injured or hospitalized, indicate that the protesters did hurl eggs at the emblem of the Chinese Communist Party at the liaison office. Protesters claim, however, that police began firing tear gas and rubber bullets in response to peaceful dissidence and no protester attempted to use violence against authorities.

The Global Times did not mention the incident in Yuen Long, far north of Sheung Wan, at all.

Police confirmed early Monday that 45 people were hospitalized, and one declared in critical condition, following a mob attack by pro-Chinese “thugs” on protesters who, their rally having ended, were making their way to a mass transit platform to go home. Shocking video taken on protesters’ mobile phones showed members of the mob, dressed in white and wearing surgical masks to hide their identities, beating the crowds with sticks, bloodying elected lawmakers and journalists. Cameras caught the mob beating a pregnant woman strewn on the floor. Leaders of the pro-democracy movement accused the Chinese communist regime of hiring members of local triads, organized crime syndicates, to intimidate and attack the protesters.

Hong Kong police have not arrested anyone in connection to the Yuen Long attack.

“Capitalizing on the exposure afforded to them, there has been a rising escalation in the audacity of those protestors calling for ‘Hong Kong independence,'” China Daily, an English-language communist regime newspaper, warned on Monday. “In some instances, this is pandering to the Western media for a few minutes of fame. But there are some who oppose Beijing for whatever reason and whose buttons have been pressed by foreign agitation.”

The newspaper accused protesters of trying to “undermine public order” by engagement in peaceful acts of protests.

In another article, China Daily claimed that most Hong Kong residents support China and touted an alleged rally attracting 300,000 people on Saturday in support of Beijing.

“These radical youths have attacked police officers, stormed the legislature, and laid siege to the police headquarters, all carried out in illegal and violent fashion, which the silent majority of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region could no longer remain mute spectators to,” the newspaper claimed.

Xinhua, the nation’s flagship news agency, similarly claimed that, despite the protests attracted as many as 2 million people at a time last month, most who live in the capitalist former British colony support communist attempts to end the “vicious acts” of peaceful protesters.

“The protestors’ behaviors have gone far beyond a peaceful demonstration,” Xinhua argued. “The escalating incidents have revealed an attempt by the mobs and the forces behind to paralyze the HKSAR government, undermine the principle of ‘one country, two systems,’ wrest power over the region and impede China’s development by throwing Hong Kong into disorder.”

“One Country, Two Systems” is the official name for the political division between Hong Kong and China. China has the right to impose its sovereignty over Hong Kong in exchange for allowing it to function as a capitalist system, according to the 1997 agreement that handed the city’s governance from the United Kingdom to China.

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