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

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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Executive Council, writes that “something had to be done” about the million-person protests against a proposed—now withdrawn—security law that would allow the Chinese government to extradite Hong Kong criminal on the mainland and tried by China’s undemocratic justice system.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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Rejecting Détente Offer, China Throws Shade at Taiwan’s New President

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Follow Steve Postal: @HebraicMosaic

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China’s propaganda machine has responded to Taiwan President Lai Ching-te’s inauguration address, which was conciliatory to the mainland, with belligerence. Rather than accepting Lai’s olive branch of détente based on mutual respect, China used Lai’s inauguration speech to slander the new president, claim that he does not have the mandate of his own people, and threaten to use force on the island.

China Slanders Taiwan’s New President

China reacted to Lai’s inauguration speech by slandering the new Taiwanese president. A Global Times article asserted that Lai “wants to deceive Taiwan residents,” and is “malicious.” Chen Binhua, a spokesperson for China’s State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, stated that Lai has “an extremely arrogant attitude and more radical views,” and that Lai’s inauguration speech was “[f]ull of hostility and provocation and made up of lies and deception,” according to another Global Times article. Similarly, Zhu Fenglian, another spokesperson for China’s State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, called Lai’s actions “vile,” according to a third Global Times article. A China Daily editorial labelled him a “diehard separatist, ” while another China Daily editorial called Lai’s quest for Taiwan’s independence an “evil pursuit.”

China Claims Lai Doesn’t Speak for the People of Taiwan

Despite Lai winning Taiwan’s democratic election, China portrayed Lai as going against the will of his people. Chen Binhua, a spokesperson for the China’s State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, called Lai is  “a traitor to mainstream public opinion on the island and a disruptor of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” according to Global Times. Zhu Fenglian, another spokesperson for China’s State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, stated that “insightful individuals in Taiwan have expressed deep concern” about Lai, “reflecting the shared sentiments of the majority of Taiwan compatriots,” and that Lai’s colleagues in the DPP party are “in fact very insecure and fear that compatriots on both sides of the Straits will come closer together,” according to Global Times.

China Threatens to Use Force on Taiwan

China also responded to Lai’s inaugural speech by issuing threats and not-so-veiled threats to use force against Taiwan. One Global Times article stated that “Lai’s ‘Taiwan independence’ remarks are playing with fire, and those who play with fire will be bound to get themselves burned.” According to China Daily, the naval exercises conducted around Taiwan by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) from May 23-24 in response to Lai’s speech were “legitimate countermeasures” that send “a clear message that [the PLA] will prevent ‘Taiwan independence’ at all costs.” Another China Daily article stated that the Chinese Defense Minister Dong Jun “…left no one in any doubt that should it prove necessary Beijing will not hesitate to use force to quash any bid to divide the nation. Calling the separatists’ pursuit of ‘independence’ an act of self-destruction, he stated unequivocally that ‘Whoever dares to sever Taiwan from China will be crushed.’”

Another Global Times article maintained that “[t]he actions of the Lai authorities will definitely invite lessons and countermeasures from the mainland” and that “[i]f Lai tries to escalate tensions in the coming years, the mainland will respond and use all available tools to make the Taiwan authorities pay a heavy price.” A third Global Times article, quoting “analysts” stated that “the pursuit of ‘Taiwan independence’ is a futile endeavor that will lead to detrimental and calamitous consequences for Taiwan island.”

Rather than accepting Lai’s reasonable offer to resume cordial relations based on mutual respect, China has chosen to ratchet up its propaganda attacks against the island. As China continues to beat the drums of war, will Taiwan hold the line?

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