‘Mr President, don’t go hide’: China goads US over George Floyd protests
- Trump was ushered into a White House bunker on Friday night as the protests raged outside
- Officials and state media appear to revel in scenes of US unrest, comparing protests there to Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement
Jamie Ross, Daily Beast Reporter/The Guardian, Published Jun. 01, 2020
Chinese officials and state media have seized on news of the protests sweeping the US, comparing the widespread unrest to the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong and accusing Washington of hypocrisy.
Mass protests spread across multiple US states over the weekend, many escalating after police responded with teargas, pepper balls and other projectiles, and in some instances using vehicles to ram protesters. Some cities have seen arson and looting, and across the nation police have been criticised for using excessive force.
Then, symbolically, the White House was plunged into darkness Sunday night as protests against the death of George Floyd continued to rage outside its walls. Usually, there are lights that shine on the White House at night.
But CBS News reports that, just before Washington’s curfew came into force at 11 p.m., the lights were turned off. The nation’s capital was rocked by protests throughout the weekend and through Sunday night.
Fires were lit and and buildings were vandalized near the White House, and CBS reports that anti-Trump messages were spray-painted on Blair House— the president’s guest house. The Lincoln Memorial and the nearby World War II Memorial were also said to have been defaced.
Police reportedly drove crowds away from Lafayette Park late Sunday night using flash bangs and tear gas.
It was reported Sunday that President Trump was ushered into a White House bunker on Friday night as protests were being held near the White House.
The protests were sparked by the death of George Floyd, an African American man killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis. China threatens ‘countermeasures’ against UK over Hong Kong crisisRead more
The US protests follow almost a year of highly visible and significant pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong, where police are also repeatedly accused of using excessive force.
The US administration has been vocal in support of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, particularly since Beijing’s declaration it would impose national security laws on the semi-autonomous region.
After days of chaotic scenes in the US, China has jumped to criticise the American government.
At a press conference on Monday, foreign ministry spokesman, Lijian Zhao urged the US to eliminate racial discrimination and protect the lawful rights of minorities, according to state-backed media, CGTN.
“The death of George Floyd reflects the severity of racial discrimination and police brutality in the US,” said Zhao.
Zhao also threatened “counter-attacks” on the US for continued retaliatory measures over China’s increased control over Hong Kong, which include reversing Hong Kong’s special customs status.
On Sunday China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying posted “I can’t breathe” – Floyd’s last words – to Twitter, with a screenshot of her American counterpart criticising China’s crackdown on Hong Kong.
Zhao also retweeted numerous comments and reports on the protests, including from Russia’s deputy representative to the UN, accusing the US of double standards. “Why US denies China’s right to restore peace and order in HK while brutally dispersing crowds at home?” said Dmitry Polyanskiy.
State media has also revelled in the scenes of unrest unfolding in the US.
“US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi once called the violent protests in Hong Kong ‘a beautiful sight to behold.’… US politicians now can enjoy this sight from their own windows,” Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of nationalist tabloid Global Times, wrote on Saturday.
China has often highlighted problems in the US to hit back against criticisms of its own human rights record, including treatment of minorities or most recently its handling of protesters in Hong Kong.
Beijing has repeatedly blamed “foreign forces”, including the US for inciting and driving the Hong Kong protests.
On Sunday, Hu said Hong Kong protesters were “obviously” behind the American demonstrations. “I highly suspect that Hong Kong rioters have infiltrated American states,” he wrote, earning him accusations of peddling conspiracy theories.
In a series of tweets and editorials over the weekend, Hu and his paper accused the US of hypocrisy.
“Mr President, don’t go hide behind the secret service,” said Hu. “Go to talk to the demonstrators seriously. Negotiate with them, just like you urged Beijing to talk to Hong Kong rioters.”
In another tweet he said both protests defied the law, subverted order, and were destructive, but that Hong Kong’s were seen as justified by the US, while those in the US were unjust.
He said Chinese people believed the US unrest was retribution for US government support for Hong Kong. “The Chinese government has not shown any support for the riots in the US. I hope that Americans notice Beijing’s restraint.”
The Twitter account of the Global Times has also published clips from the US protests, including one of a police vehicle ramming into protesters in New York city. The caption read: “Peacekeepers or mass murderers?”
Additional reporting by Lillian Yang