October 1, 2020

NYT Opinion Piece Defends China’s Authoritarian Actions in Hong Kong

The New York Times is receiving massive criticism Thursday for publishing an opinion piece titled “Hong Kong Is China, Like It or Not” in which the author defends China’s brutal measures to suppress the millions of Hong Kongers who were protesting the continual loss of their human rights, democracy, and autonomy.

Author Regina Ip, who is a member of the pro-Beijing New People’s Party and a legislator on Hong Kong’s Executive Council, writes that “something had to be done” about the million-person protests against a proposed—now withdrawn—security law that would allow the Chinese government to extradite Hong Kong criminal on the mainland and tried by China’s undemocratic justice system.

“Foreign governments should not benchmark what happens in Hong Kong against standards that prevail in Western countries,” she writes. “They should benchmark Hong Kong against the rest of China.”

She defends the government’s crackdown on anti-government protesters, saying, “The West tends to glorify these people as defenders of Hong Kong’s freedoms, but they have done great harm to the city by going against its constitutional order and stirring up chaos and disaffection toward our motherland.”

In the same op-ed, she also defended a national security law that severely restricted freedom of speech and expression in Hong Kong, saying, “The scale and frequency of antigovernment protests has now subsided — thanks to a national security law for Hong Kong promulgated in Beijing on June 30.”

The New York Times last month published a lengthy piece by Jin Wu and Elaine Yu, “What You Can No Longer Say in Hong Kong,” detailing what Hong Kongers are no longer allowed to say under the aforementioned national security law and how it is affecting the city. After the law was passed on June 30, thousands of pro-democracy protesters challenged it by carrying signs with criminalized phrases, such as “Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Time.”

All over the internet, people are criticizing the article and the New York Times for even publishing this article defending China’s human rights abuses in Hong Kong by an avidly pro-Beijing politician.

“So,” conservative commentator Ben Shapiro tweets to his 3.1 million followers, “any of those woke staffers who care so much about human rights going to demand the resignation of the op-ed editor who is now printing open Chinese propaganda cheering the complete tyrannical takeover of Hong Kong?”

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) took the opportunity to criticize the piece too, tweeting, “Get a load of this headline. @nytimes publishing a piece of shameless #China propaganda defending Beijing’s violent & lawless crackdown in #HongKong. What next from NYT, “Like it or not, Uighurs are prisoners”?”

Other individuals made comparisons to when many commentators criticized the New York Times for publishing a June 3 op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) in which he said he was in favor of using the military to quell violence at protests, asking them if they would condemn Ip’s piece, too.

“Why is it okay to run this, but not okay to run an op-ed by Tom Cotton?” Reason editor Robby Soave said in a tweet, sharing Ip’s piece.

The New York Times and Ip have yet to respond to the controversy.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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