Chinese state and social media have been filled with reports highlighting the nationwide demonstrations against police brutality in the US and attacking American politicians who supported the Hong Kong protests.
State news agency Xinhua described the chaotic scenes as “Pelosi’s beautiful landscape”, a veiled reference to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s comments last year that the mass protests in Hong Kong were “a beautiful sight to behold”.
State broadcaster CCTV on Saturday referred to the protest cities as “warzones” and produced round-the-clock updates and analyses highlighting the racial divide in the US.
The clashes in multiple cities were triggered by the death of George Floyd, 46, an African-American who died after being arrested by police in Minnesota.
His death was caught on camera and footage showed a white uniformed officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes as he repeatedly pleaded for his life, saying “I can’t breathe”.
His death triggered mass demonstrations that later turned into riots and looting in Minneapolis. A police precinct was burnt down and shops were vandalised.
The city is now under curfew while Chauvin has been arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
But “Black Lives Matter” demonstrations calling for an end of systemic racism have continued to spread to other cities including Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, where protests were held outside the White House.
The Chinese embassy in the US has issued a safety alert warning citizens to avoid protest hotspots.
“The Chinese embassy reminds Chinese citizens in the US to closely monitor the local security situation, stay alert to police notices over demonstrations, protests and possible riots and avoid travelling to dangerous areas,” it said in a statement on Saturday.
“Chinese citizens operating stores and shops should remain vigilant and step up security measures,” the statement added.
Violent protest scenes and comments by protesters have featured prominently in mainland Chinese television and press reports.
On Saturday night, a prime time commentary on CCTV said US-style human rights were hypocritical and disgusting and also used the phrase “beautiful sight” to describe the spectacle.
It said American politicians should apologise to their people and described the chaos as a “self-inflicted wound”.
Meanwhile, party mouthpiece People’s Daily published a short video of the arrest of CNN journalist Omar Jimenez during a live broadcast in Minneapolis, and drew a contrast with a clip showing Hong Kong police retreating from a protest site last October.
The report did not mention repeated complaints by Hong Kong journalists about violent treatment by police, or the Indonesian journalist Veby Indah who was left blind in one eye after being hit by a suspected rubber bullet fired by police.
Meanwhile, nationalistic opinion leaders in China attacked US politicians for “glorifying” Hong Kong protesters over the past year and failing to contain the unrest back home.
Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of Global Times, wrote on Twitter: “The ‘beautiful sight’ defined by US politicians has eventually extended from Hong Kong to the US. Now they can witness it by their home windows. I want to ask Speaker Pelosi and Secretary [Mike] Pompeo: Should Beijing support protests in the US, like you glorified rioters in Hong Kong?”
Discussions highlighting the police brutality and entrenched racial divisions in the US were also trending on Chinese social media.
Many Chinese internet users said they were shocked and saddened by the inhumane treatment of African Americans and the levels of police brutality in the US.
“The US has destroyed freedom and democracy, the core values that they uphold, since the first day they stood behind the Hong Kong protests.
“As they justified the acts of Hong Kong rioters, it was destined that such scenes would be replayed in their own nation,” said one post on social media.
However, other discussions focused on the US right to free speech and free assembly.
“Injustice and inequality is everywhere. What we should reflect on is this: how can their footage against police brutality be shared without censorship?
“Why are Americans allowed to protest on the streets to express their anger and we cannot?” another web user asked.
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