China’s internet erupted in mirth at America’s troubled democracy after supporters of President Donald Trump broke into the US Capitol, with Beijing criticising the “sharp contrast” between Washington’s response to the chaos and the 2019 Hong Kong anti-government protests.
On Thursday morning, state media tabloid Global Times tweeted side-by-side photo comparisons of Hong Kong protesters occupying the city’s Legislative Council Complex in July 2019 with Wednesday’s Washington riots.
The latter saw hardcore Trump fans invade the US Capitol to protest the election defeat, taking selfies, scuffling with security and ransacking parts of the building.
“@SpeakerPelosi once referred to the Hong Kong riots as ‘a beautiful sight to behold’,” the Global Times said in the tweet, referring to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s June 2019 comment about Hong Kong’s mass pro-democracy demonstrations, which at that time were mostly peaceful.
“It remains yet to be seen whether she will say the same about the recent developments in Capitol Hill.”
China’s Communist Youth League also described the unrest as a “beautiful sight” on the Twitter-like Weibo platform.
Beijing’s Foreign Ministry echoed those sentiments, saying “the reaction of some people in the US, including that of some media outlets, is completely different.”
Speaking at a press briefing on Thursday, ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that the “sharp contrast (in reactions) makes one ponder, and deserves serious and profound reflection.”
The hashtag “Trump supporters storm US Capitol” pinballed across China’s Weibo on Thursday, racking up 570 million views, as users compared the global support for Hong Kong’s protesters with the outpouring of condemnation for the pro-Trump mob.
“At present, all European countries’ leaders have shown double standards and condemned it (Washington rioting),” read one Weibo comment which gained over 5,000 likes.
“I don’t know what kind of double-standard reports will be carried by Hong Kong or Taiwan media this time.”
“What happened in the Hong Kong Legislative Council last year is being repeated in the US Capitol,” wrote another user in a comment with over 4,500 likes.
While the tactics were similar, there are stark differences in the causes and motivations of the two legislative stormings.
Hong Kong protesters broke into the Legislative Council to demand full democracy and halt an unpopular bill that was being pushed through by the city’s unelected leadership.
Citizens of the semi-autonomous Chinese city do not enjoy full democratic rights, the cause of years of popular protests.
Beijing responded to the 2019 unrest with a crackdown, imposing a harsh security law on the restless city, arresting scores of critics and smothering dissent.
In contrast, those storming the US Capitol were trying to overturn the results of what has been declared a free and fair presidential election.
US President-elect Joe Biden has accused the US rioters of undermining democracy by trying to overturn his victory in November’s election.