Joshua Wong spurs Chinese embassies into PR action
Newspaper article and Twitter post prompt condemnation from overseas envoys.
Chinese embassies have lashed out at a Thai opposition politician and a Singapore newspaper over their contact with and coverage of Hong Kong political activist Joshua Wong Chi-fung.
In a statement on Thursday, the Chinese embassy in Bangkok said it was “extremely wrong and irresponsible for some Thai politicians to openly have contact with ‘Hong Kong independence’ elements”.
“The Chinese side hopes that the relevant people will recognise the nature of the Hong Kong issue, and be cautious and do more to help maintain China-Thailand friendship,” the statement said, without referring directly to Wong.
Wong co-founded localist political party Demosisto, which campaigns for self-determination for Hong Kong.
The 22-year-old posted a picture on Twitter on Monday of him standing next to Thai opposition party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, with the caption: “Under hardline authoritarian suppression, we stand in solidarity.”
Wong and Thanathorn were both speakers at the annual Open Future Festival in Hong Kong on October 5.
After the Chinese embassy released its statement, Thanathorn published a “clarification”, distancing himself from Wong.
“That was the first and only time I met Joshua Wong and I have never been involved with any political groups in Hong Kong and have no intention to do so in the future,” he said.
“The one photo of me and Joshua Wong has been exaggerated by the media, certain groups of people and military leaders to connect me with the unrest in Hong Kong to create hatred in Thailand. I wish everyone can be better informed with all-rounded information and I affirm that our party wishes to drive the country [Thailand] towards democracy and help create equality in society.”
On Tuesday, the Chinese embassy in Singapore responded to an article about Wong published by Chinese-language daily Lianhe Zaobao.
In the article, Wong was quoted as saying that he did not advocate independence for Hong Kong – a red line for Beijing.
But the embassy disputed the assertion.
“In the article, Wong slandered ‘one country, two systems’, attempted to justify violence and welcomed foreign interference into Hong Kong’s domestic politics,” it said, referring to the constitutional formula under which Hong Kong retains its own political and economic systems.
“This has once again proved that he is an advocate and organiser of the current situation that Hong Kong is in.”
Hong Kong has been roiled by four months of anti-government protests ignited by a now-shelved extradition bill that would have allowed suspects to be sent from the city to the mainland.
The protests have expanded into calls for universal suffrage and an investigation into alleged police brutality.
Beijing has repeatedly accused other countries of interfering in the protests, which it says is a domestic affair.
Its envoys have also been more active in promoting its political agenda in recent years, with ambassadors accepting interviews with foreign media and opening official accounts on Western social media platforms like Twitter.
In addition to the condemnations on Wong, Chinese ambassadors in Laos and Malaysia have published statements in the past week “to introduce to situation in Hong Kong”.