Supporters of US President Donald Trump protest outside the US Capitol on Wednesday, in Washington, DC. Demonstrators breached security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. Photo: AFP
After the historic and shocking riots at the Capitol in Washington DC on Wednesday, US pro-establishment elites, Democrats, mainstream media and social media networks are exerting great effort to mute and isolate voices of President Donald Trump and his supporters for their alleged purpose of safeguarding the US’ democratic system. In doing so, they maintain double standards on similar incidents elsewhere around the globe, such as claiming that the Hong Kong turmoil of 2019 is “nothing like” the Capital riots.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying urged people to rethink such a political stance riddled with double standards after the Capitol building was stormed by pro-Trump protesters Wednesday, but Western media still insist on their sophism to defend the wavering standards on democracy and freedom of speech, with Chinese analysts saying on Monday that double standards based on power politics and hegemony will backfire in the country with more internal struggles to ensue.
Pretending to be blind?
“No, Beijing, the Hong Kong protests were nothing like what happened on Capitol Hill” Olivia Enos, senior policy analyst at the Asian Studies Center at the Washington-based Heritage Foundation, commented in an article published on the foundation’s website on Saturday. She claimed that what happened during the 2019 Hong Kong turmoil was “overwhelmingly peaceful, pro-democracy.” Some other Western commentators and journalists made similar comments in recent days.
Such a sophistic attitude among some US, Western scholars and media has been mocked and refuted again by Chinese media and experts. The Westerners who preach these double standards “must be blind or are pretending to be and never went to Hong Kong during the turmoil. Therefore they are able to cook up such nonsense and lies,” read a commentary article published by a WeChat public account under the Beijing Daily on Saturday.
“The Hong Kong rioters and separatists are much more terrible than those people who climbed the wall to get into the Capitol and took selfies in the Congress building,” said the article.
“In fact, Trump supporters who stormed Capitol Hill were much more civilized and peaceful than the Hong Kong rioters. Hong Kong rioters used petrol bombs, bow and arrows, iron sticks, bricks and knives to attack not just police officers but also innocent people on the street who disagreed with them, even torturing journalists during the so-called ‘overwhelmingly pro-democratic peaceful protests,'” Alexander Young, a journalist who witnessed and reported the 2019 turmoil in Hong Kong, told the Global Times.
“Compared to what happened in Washington DC, a pro-Trump female veteran soldier tried to climb into Capitol building through a broken window, but was shot and killed by police or agents inside,” said Yang Hanyi, a commentator at Shanghai-based guancha.cn in his commentary video program, noting that “but almost every mainstream Western media used the word ‘mob’ to identify the pro-Trump protestors, while still calling Hong Kong rioters ‘pro-democracy protesters.’ How hypocritical they are!”
Moves to permanently mute Trump on online social networks like Twitter have also showed double standards, as the idea of freedom of speech which is frequently used by the US and the West to criticize other countries has become “a total joke,” said Chinese analysts.
Zhang Yiwu, a professor at Peking University, told the Global Times that this has proven that the boundaries of freedom of speech are vague.
China is a strategic competitor identified by the US, although the two countries both want to restore public order and oppose violence after the riots on their respective lands, US elites and politicians will never retract their support for the Hong Kong rioters despite the embarrassment that the Capitol Hill riots had caused them, because “it’s never about democracy or law and order, it’s about strategic competition between major powers,” said Song Luzheng, a research fellow at the China Institute of Fudan University.
Double standards based on hegemony will undermine the credibility of US democracy, making it increasingly unconvincing around the globe and backfiring in the US with more internal struggles to ensue, said Chinese analysts, noting that Trump leaving office is just the beginning of endless political conflicts rather than an end to them.
“Ironically, US Republican senators like Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley who show their strong support for Hong Kong separatists and rioting are now in trouble due to their pro-Trump stances in challenging the election results that may incite further violence like the Capital riots”
Lü Xiang, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, told the Global Times on Monday.
According to US media, Hawley was the first senator to publicly vow to challenge the Electoral College tally, leading the effort together with Cruz, with both being harshly criticized by the media and their colleagues in Congress. During the Hong Kong turmoil, Hawley and Cruz both went to Hong Kong and met with separatist activists to show their support. Now, both are sanctioned by the Chinese Foreign Ministry due to their interference in China’s internal affairs in Hong Kong.
When US politicians and media support violence elsewhere around the globe, not only in China’s Hong Kong, but also in Ukraine, Egypt and some Latin American countries, Americans are also listening and many of them will believe that attacking police, storming governmental or legislative institutions are legitimate and right if “democracy” is used as the excuse, with the Capitol riots being the latest example of such backfiring, Lü said.
US media and people should realize that the rioters in Hong Kong and Washington DC both share very similar political values – anti-immigration and anti-establishment, prefer to realize their purpose through violence rather than legal means, so when you encourage violent and extreme Hong Kong separatists, you encourage Trump loyalists like the “Proud Boys,” Lü noted.
Chinese experts said US politicians don’t just have double standards on violence abroad, but also hold very different attitudes toward the Black Lives Matter movement which also turned violent with illegal acts occurring in many cities earlier in 2020. Many media and politicians at that time refused to directly criticize the protesters but focused on criticizing the Trump administration, and when a similar incident occurred as with Trump supporters, they united to call them “mob”
“Trump is not just a president, no matter whether he is liked or not, he is also a leading public opinion figure winning more than 74 million votes from the American people. Muting Trump is muting an influential political ideology in the US,” Zhang from Peking University said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, one of the most respected leaders in the West who disagrees with Trump on many issues, also believes that Trump’s ban from Twitter is “problematic,” her spokesman said Monday, according to the AP.
Lü said the potential risk of more violent incidents still exist in the US, potentially causing huge headaches for the upcoming Biden administration, and the political struggles within Congress will also continue, so Biden is inheriting “an awful mess” from the Trump administration.
Song from Fudan University said the credibility of US democracy has been seriously undermined. Even Western leaders and media are trying to distort the current mess from a systemic crisis into “an exception caused by Trump,” and “they can no longer convince other countries that power transitions with a Western democratic system are ‘peaceful’ and ‘the one person one vote’ will conclude with a result of legitimacy that won’t be challenged by the people.”