China Uses Capitol Violence to Cast Narrative of U.S. Hypocrisy

China seized upon the chaos at the U.S. Capitol as an opportunity to drive home a narrative of American hypocrisy, with state media casting the incident as “karma” and “retribution” for Washington’s support of global protest movements including those in Hong Kong.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Thursday that some people in the U.S. needed to reflect upon the fact they had reacted differently to the violence in Washington compared with the pro-democracy demonstrations that rocked Hong Kong in 2019. Still, Hua said she believed Americans wanted peace and stability.

“The violence is not so severe as it was in Hong Kong, but you should still remember that at that time some U.S. lawmakers and political leaders were saying words totally different from what they’re saying now,” Hua told a briefing in Beijing.

The Communist Party’s Global Times newspaper posted memes and cartoons contrasting the U.S. response to Wednesday’s events with American support for sometimes violent protests in Hong Kong.

One article published by the paper cited internet users saying the U.S. had “tasted the karma of its own double standards” after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol. The U.S. was tasting its own medicine after inciting chaos around the world under the pretext of freedom and democracy, the paper wrote, citing online users.

China Uses Capitol Violence to Cast Narrative of U.S. Hypocrisy

The events were widely reported elsewhere in Chinese media. An official social media account of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, China’s top law enforcement body, closely covered the developments, and articles using hashtags related to the incident garnered over 100 million views on social media platform Weibo.

Most other Chinese media were careful to stick to the facts, reposting videos and photos rather than embellish reports with additional color or commentary. One report from state broadcaster China Central Television zeroed in on the fact that few protesters were wearing masks despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

While state media treaded carefully in its reporting, some users on Chinese social media were quick to draw a comparison between the riots and 2019’s pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, during which demonstrators stormed the city’s Legislative Council.

A Weibo account belonging to a department under China’s foreign ministry asked whether “the beacon has fallen” while highlighting a June 2019 remark by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi praising democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong as a “beautiful sight to behold.” The post included the hashtag “Pelosi experiences the beautiful sight herself.”

China’s Communist Youth League, the party’s branch for younger members, shared photos of the mob on Capitol Hill on Weibo with a caption saying the U.S. Congress was the location of “the most beautiful sight.”

“The U.S. National Guard moved to deal with the rioters in the Capitol, which is also a slap in the face for the U.S. over its previous remarks on similar incidents in other countries and regions and in China’s Hong Kong,” the Global Times wrote.

China has long criticized the U.S. for interfering in its internal affairs and for holding double standards. State media have in recent months used American law enforcement’s response to internal unrest to justify Beijing’s own actions against the sometimes-violent anti-government demonstrations in Hong Kong.

Amid separate street violence in the U.S. earlier in 2020, Global Times Editor-in-Chief Hu Xijin had said China’s government “has not shown any support for the riots in the U.S. I hope that Americans notice Beijing’s restraint.” On Thursday, Hu tweeted that if the U.S. were a developing country, American media outlets would call the latest events “Washington Spring.”

The Global Times described the latest scenes in Washington using a Chinese term referring to a ruler’s subordinates coming to his rescue when his authority is threatened.

“This is likely Trump’s closing performance to the world,” blogger Buyidao wrote in an article shared by the newspaper. “Thankfully, Chinese people can watch this drama in a relaxed mood.”

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