On July 1, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) celebrated 25 years of Britain surrendering Hong Kong to China. Chinese President Xi Jinping and CCP state media are capitalizing on this anniversary to whitewash China’s brutal suppression of Hong Kong’s limited sovereignty and its now-stillborn pro-democracy movement. The CCP is communicating false narratives to Chinese citizens and the West that Hong Kong supports Chinese control, that Hong Kong is a democracy, that the protests were chaos and fealty to China brings order, and that the West and Taiwan are using the independence movement to destabilize China.
Claim #1: Hong Kong Strongly Supports Chinese Hegemony
According to CCP media, the people of Hong Kong strongly support Chinese control of their city. Global Times reported that those in Hong Kong and mainland China alike welcomed the 25th anniversary with “a joyful and exciting sentiment,” while Xinhua reported that Hong Kongers welcomed the anniversary with “a festive mood.” China Daily was even more glowing, reporting that the “one country, two systems” model “is universally embraced by Hong Kong residents.”
The CCP also emphasizes a narrative of China and Hong Kong sharing a strong bond. Xi mentions that “Throughout history, people in Hong Kong have always maintained a close bond with the motherland in weal and woe.” According to Xinhua, the people of Hong Kong and China share a “close affinity” and a “profound bond.”
Claim #2: Hong Kong is a Democracy
After the brutal suppression of the pro-democratic movement in Hong Kong, CCP leadership and media now have the gall to portray Hong Kong as a democracy. Xi Jinping, after overseeing the suppression of any vestiges of Hong Kong independence from the Chinese mainland, in a recent speech praises Hong Kong as a “democracy.” According to Xi, with those in Hong Kong having “a high degree of autonomy in practice, the region has truly entered an era of democracy.” The one-country, two systems model “…is in the interest of Hong Kong residents’ democratic rights,” according to Xi. And in the words of the spokesman of the Commissioner’s Office of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), as reported in Global Times, “since its return to the motherland, Hong Kong has embraced true democracy and Hong Kong compatriots have become masters of their own destiny.”
Claim #3 Hong Kong’s Protests Were Chaos, and Chinese Control Brings Order
While lauding CCP-manufactured “democracy” as great, CCP media portray the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong as spawning chaos in the city. The protests amounted to “horrendous riots” that “burned down and destroyed” “public transport and restaurants,” while “gravely injur[ing]” police officers and “victimiz[ing]” innocent bystanders, according to China Daily. Another China Daily article stated that the protests amounted to “lawlessness and violence” of a “radical opposition” that nearly plunged Hong Kong into a “bottomless abyss.”
In contrast, the CCP portrays China as bringing order to the chaos. In a major speech, Xi warned that “[t]hrough trials and tribulations…Hong Kong cannot withstand chaos and will not afford to have any…” Put more optimistically, Xi also maintained that Chinese support has brought “good governance” from “disarray” and that as a result, “Hong Kong is entering a new phase of becoming more prosperous.” Similarly, Xinhua and Global Times articles similarly remark that Hong Kong is moving “from chaos to order,” and also “to greater prosperity.”
Key to this prosperity and stability, according to the CCP, is the new national security law. According to Xinhua, the national security law “has brought stability back to society.” And according to China Daily, both the national security law and “electoral reforms” were key to the “smooth economic development” of Hong Kong.
Claim #4: West and Taiwan Using Hong Kong Protests to Destabilize China
The CCP blames the Hong Kong protests as attempts by the West and Taiwan to destabilize China. Both Global Timesand China Daily stated that Western support of Hong Kong’s democratic protests were a plot “to contain China’s development.” According to China Daily, the West sought to “use Hong Kong as an anti-China base” and to turn Hong Kong and China “into a maelstrom of turmoil.” Another China Daily article blamed “internal and external hostile forces” for undermining Hong Kong’s “prosperity and stability.” And according to Li Xiaobing, cited by Global Times as “an expert on Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan affairs at Nankai University,” those who spawned the “social turmoil” in 2019 in Hong Kong were merely “secessionists” who “colluded with those in Taiwan.”
The CCP is using the 25th anniversary of Britain’s surrender of Hong Kong as a vehicle for a propaganda campaign to champion China’s control of the city. Through its propaganda campaign, the CCP hopes to improve its image domestically and abroad.
You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic
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