FPI / August 11, 2019
The Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda outlets are feeding China’s 1.386 billion citizens a much different story about Hong Kong than what is occurring on the streets.
Demonstrators for a third consecutive month converged on Hong Kong for protests which started as opposition to an extradition bill but have evolved into ongoing, full-fledged protests against Beijing’s increasingly heavy-handed rule over the autonomous territory.
This weekend, protesters took over streets in two parts of Hong Kong, chanting: "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our time."
"We hope the world knows that Hong Kong is not the Hong Kong it used to be," said one protester, Louisa Ho. "China is doing more and more to pressure Hong Kong, its people and its organizations."
While most of the protests have been peaceful, China’s propaganda outlets describe them as “riots” and describe the protesters as “radicals” and “thugs.”
The People’s Daily posted an article on the Chinese WeChat webchat service on Aug. 10 saying members from “all parts of Hong Kong society” were calling for the “violence to stop.”
Other propaganda pieces applauded “the great bravery” of the Hong Kong police in a city described as “shrouded in black terror.”
“Over the past two months, Chinese state media outlets have gone from near silence on the protests and blanket censorship of footage of the demonstrations to actively pushing news, editorials, videos and online discussions,” The Guardian noted in an Aug. 11 report.
“The mainland media can’t be seen as journalism. It’s purely propaganda… It is intercepting a small part of the information, distorting it and magnifying it,” said Fang Kecheng, a professor at Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Protesters are also portrayed as “lured by the evil winds” of foreign agents. Chinese officials have accused the U.S. and other western countries of being the “black hand” behind the protests.
The propaganda outlets also have seized on the few violent clashes between the protesters and police in Hong Kong.
Chinese state media have also described armed men who have attacked protesters as “patriots.”
“Left out is reporting on and images of police violence, of which there has been a good deal and the attacks on unarmed protesters by armed thugs,” said Jeffrey Wasserstrom, a historian of modern China at the University of California-Irvine.
“The implication is that what protesters have been doing is creating ‘chaos’ or luan, a very freighted word in the People’s Republic of China,” Wasserstrom said, referring to the term’s usage to describe the upheavals of the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s as well as to criticize protests in Tiananmen Square that were violently put down on June 4, 1989.
“This echo is worrying, even if it is always too simplistic to look for history repeating itself step by step in a different context,” Wasserstrom said.
Free Press International