Beijing enraged over attack on its office . . .
Beijing reacted furiously today in response to Hong Kong protesters’ vandalizing its Central Government Liaison Office on Sunday night. It condemned the “violent” protests in a commentary published by the state-run Xinhua News Agency, the biggest and most influential media organization in China. This commentary described the protesters as “absolutely intolerable” as they “blatantly challenged the authority of the central government and touched the bottom line of the principle of ‘one country, two systems.’ It further described the recent anti-government protests as an attempt by “the mobs and the forces behind it to … impede China's development by throwing Hong Kong into disorder” and urged for actions to ensure the safety of Hong Kong-based central government organs, safeguard the rule of law, and punish criminals.
Agitated mainlanders . . .
While little sympathy for the Hong Kong protesters has been voiced from Chinese mainlanders, the recent escalation of the protests in both scale and scope, especially the vandalization of Beijing’s liaison office, seem to have spurred more hostility than sympathy toward Hong Kong. The defacing of the national emblem and derogatory graffiti on the liaison office building offended many across the border, and were largely perceived as criminal and intolerable. Public sentiment in China also seems to support what appear to be new pro-government counter-protests. Some senior policy insiders in China suggest that the increasingly violent protests in Hong Kong, coupled with domestic public reaction in China, could prompt a tougher stance by Beijing.
Beijing amps media campaign . . .
The Chinese government is seeking to control the Hong Kong protests narrative by creating a news agenda in favour of Beijing. Chinese state media tends to under-report Hong Kong protests and incidents, including an absence of reporting on the recent attacks at the Yuen Long MRT, which are censored for online search. But the pro-government demonstration and the vandalization incident both received high-profile reports on all three flagship media outlets in China – CCTV, People’s Daily and Xinhua News Agency – which appear to be resonating with millions of mainlanders. The Chinese media largely describes the anti-government protests as “illegal violence and riots” and evidence of interference by foreign pro-democracy groups or forces. China’s state media meta-narrative, meanwhile, promotes the argument that economic integration is key to Hong Kong’s future prosperity and long-term stability.
- South China Morning Post: Mainland Chinese sentiment on protests ‘may spur tougher line on Hong Kong’ following violence in wake of extradition bill controversy
- Wall Street Journal: China’s state media show Hong Kong protest images, fanning public anger
- Xinua News: Commentary: HK protestors' challenge to central government intolerable