China’s state-run propaganda outlet Global Times condemned Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Monday for traveling to Hong Kong and dressing in black, the color of pro-democracy protesters which, according to the outlet, made him “synonymous with a thug.”
Cruz and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) joined Hong Kong on a week in which thousands took the streets calling for Congress to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, a bill that would protect pro-democracy protesters in the event of China attempt to limit their travel, calls for Washington to document the human rights situation in the city, and allows the government to limit business with entities that repress the people of Hong Kong.
Cruz attempted to meet with Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, but Lam canceled the meeting at the last minute, according to Cruz, who called the move “a sign of weakness.”
While in Hong Kong, both met with some key members of the anti-communist democracy movement. Demosisto activist Joshua Wong, one of the most outspoken young voices of the anti-China movement, posted a photo with Hawley in gratitude on Twitter this weekend.
The Global Times appeared particularly incensed with Cruz on Monday, who it said had met with Jimmy Lai, the owner of Apple Daily, an openly anti-communist newspaper.
“Cruz said he supported non-violence, but that was only a cover for his public support for violent demonstrations in Hong Kong. He came to Hong Kong with the intent to disrupt rational thinking in the city and fuel the fire,” the communist newspaper declared. The publication noted that Cruz chose to wear black while in Hong Kong in solidarity with the movement.
“It is well known that the black shirt is increasingly associated with violence in Hong Kong, because almost all rioters are masked and dressed in black,” the newspaper claimed. “For many, a person in black became synonymous with a thug.”
Violence has become increasingly common at anti-communist protests in Hong Kong because of the presence of pro-China thugs and abusive police officers. Police have identified members of pro-China mobs, who often surface carrying sticks and beat anyone caught dressed in black, as members of the city’s triad organized crime groups. Police have increasingly used tear gas, rubber bullets, bean bag rounds, and live ammunition to attack protesters not engaging in any illicit activity.
The Global Times accused Cruz of “glorifying violence” with his visit.
“Cruz became one of the most prominent disruptive elements of Sunday’s events in Hong Kong, giving a reason to some radical protesters to delude themselves amid flagging demonstrations,” the newspaper alleged. “Cruz is definitely in the same league as Hong Kong’s violent demonstrators.”
The newspaper also attempted to insult Cruz by calling him “anti-Chinese, anti-Communist, and pro-Taiwan” and justified Lam canceling her meeting with him by claiming his “arrogance and conceit” made respecting him impossible.
“The world does not grant US senators the privilege of meeting at the highest level. Cruz takes himself too seriously,” the Global Times declared.
Cruz condemned Lam for lacking the courage to defend her violent crackdowns on peaceful protesters in an in-person meeting with Cruz.
“She seems to misunderstand how free speech operates, and also how freedom of the press operates,” he said. “Ms. Lam’s cancelling the meeting is not a sign of strength. It’s a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of fear of the protesters in the streets of Hong Kong.”
Cruz and Hawley were on hand Monday for a thousands-strong protest in favor of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which the two senators support. Hong Kong residents filled the streets with American flags, calling America the “regulator of world order,” according to the South China Morning Post. The newspaper said the organizers had expected a turnout of about 2,000 people. Apple Daily estimated the real number that showed up was closer to 130,000 people.
The rally was the first legal assembly allowed by Hong Kong officials since the passage of a law banning face coverings went into effect this month.
The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act would allow American immigration officials to grant visas to Hongkongers whose criminal records may be maliciously compromised by the Chinese regime for participating in protests. The act would also expand sanctions authority so American officials can punish Chinese officials responsible for human rights abuses in Hong Kong. It currently enjoys massive bipartisan support in Congress, championed by both the leaders of the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and the Senate, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY).