The Chinese Communist Party has ramped up its criticism of human rights issues in the U.S., as protests and riots spread across America, sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. However, given Beijing’s own record of human rights violations and its inhumane treatment of Chinese minorities, especially on the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, Beijing’s criticism is nothing but hypocrisy.
No one can dispute Beijing’s delight in seeing scores of American cities go up in flames. China’s state-owned media has been giving wall-to-wall coverage of the unrest in the U.S., while selectively accentuating the images of destruction and chaos, and equating the looting and rioting to the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, which is a largely peaceful protest.
The CCP Sows Division
Hu Xijin, editor of the Global Times, one of many mouthpieces for the CCP, tweeted recently, “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 Pompeo: Should Beijing support protests in the US, like you glorified rioters in Hong Kong?” He went on to say, “The US repression of domestic unrest has further eroded the moral basis to claim itself ‘beacon of democracy.’ The era that the US political elites could exploit the Tiananmen incident at will is over.”
In addition to Chinese state media, communist China’s “wolf diplomats” have also been blunt on Twitter — ironically, a social media platform that is blocked in China and cannot be accessed by the average Chinese citizen. After Morgan Ortagus, a spokeswoman for the State Department, tweeted about U.S. support for the Hong Kong people after Beijing pushed through a new national security law, China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying tweeted, “I can’t breathe,” a reference to George Floyd’s last words.
Plenty of Twitter users replied, “They can’t breathe either,” with images of protesters in Hong Kong and mainland China being pinned down on the ground by brutal police force. After Chinese state media highlighted Hua’s tweet as an example of a “clever” response to so-called hypocrisy of the U.S., Chinese internet users widely mocked Hua with the words “I can’t tweet” on Chinese social media. Of course, Chinese censors deleted those posts immediately.
Undeterred, Hua continued sowing division in the U.S. by tweeting, “We stand firmly with our African friends. We strongly oppose all forms of racial discrimination and inflammatory expressions of racism and hatred.” Someone quickly pointed out to her that calling African Americans “African” is pretty racist itself.
Zhao Lijian, another Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman who got promoted to his current role by being especially provocative in using racial conflict to attack the U.S., urged “the current U.S. administration to eliminate racial discrimination and protect the lawful rights of minorities.”
Let’s Refresh Beijing’s Memory
Beijing and its diplomats need to be reminded of a couple things. First, millions of Uyghurs who were forced into internment camps are clearly not available for comment about how China has “protected” their lawful rights.
Second, China’s own treatment to visitors and immigrants from Africa during the Covid-19 outbreak is problematic, to say the least. After five Nigerians tested positive for Covid-19 in Guangzhou, the local government subjected all Africans to virus tests and 14-day quarantines, even if they hadn’t traveled outside China in recent months. Many were evicted from their homes and denied service from hotels.
Now, approximately 100 Africans are living on the city’s streets. At one McDonald’s, a sign said, “Black people are not allowed to enter” (the sign was later taken down). Discrimination against black people has become so widespread in China, the U.S. consulate in Guangzhou had to warn African Americans to avoid the city. A group of African ambassadors in Beijing wrote to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, demanding the immediate “cessation of forceful testing, quarantine, and other inhuman treatments meted out to Africans.”
Third, Beijing’s condemnation of the U.S. human rights issue seems especially ill-timed, given that today marks the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.
In 1989, Chinese students staged a peaceful protest in Tiananmen Square. They didn’t loot any stores. They burned nothing down. They beat no one. Hundreds of them went on a hunger strike to pressure the leadership of the CCP for a dialogue. Their demands were simple and straightforward: They only wanted more democracy and less government corruption. They were met with tanks and bullets June 4, 1989.
To this day, families of those killed that fateful night are not allowed to openly commemorate the loss of their loved ones. Instead, they live through frequent house arrests or imprisonment and constant surveillance by authorities.
Every year around the June 4 anniversary, Chinese censors go into overdrive to scrub the internet clean of any reference to the event. Chinese internet users aren’t even allowed to mention numbers such as “1989,” “6” as a representation for June, and “4.” Entire generations of Chinese youths born after 1989 have no knowledge of what happened in Tiananmen Square because that event has been erased from government-sanctioned history books.
For years, Hong Kong was the only place in China that could organize a candlelight vigil on June 4, not only to commemorate people who were killed by brutal government force in 1989, but also to celebrate Hong Kong’s political autonomy from Beijing. However, even that came to an end. Hong Kong police just denied a petition to hold the vigil this year, citing Covid-19-related concerns. Hong Kongers are rightfully concerned they might never again be allowed to hold a vigil on June 4 after Beijing officially enacts the new national security law.
Free People Overcome Trials
When it comes to human rights and race relations, Beijing has no moral authority to criticize and condemn the United States. Still, Beijing’s actions should be a reminder that racial conflict in the U.S. has serious national security implications too. Our nation is fully capable of defending ourselves against external hostile forces. The events of last several days, however, have demonstrated our internal vulnerability to self-destruction.
Like many Americans, I was saddened by George Floyd’s death, horrified by the destruction and chaos that followed, and disappointed in the lack of federal, state, and local leadership to identify solutions and help us unite and heal. But I remain hopeful because of videos like this, in which a protester brought a case of water to a group of police standing nearby.
“I know you are all thirsty,” he said. “I know you are all here to do your job, and I am not mad at you. … I just want you to know we came out here peacefully to spread a message.” The police thanked him for his kind gesture, and as he walked away, he said, “Stay positive.”
I took his message to heart. Our nation cannot ignore injustice, such as what happened to Floyd, and remain silent about what matters. We must have the courage, conviction, and honesty to do what is right. Just like Laozi once said, “A great nation is like a great man: When he makes a mistake, he realizes it. Having realized it, he admits it. Having admitted it, he corrects it. He considers those who point out his faults his most benevolent teachers. He thinks of his enemy as the shadow that he himself casts.”
We as a nation have faced serious challenges before, and we have always found a way to overcome, work together, and become better. This time is no different. As free people, we have the creativity, resolve, and determination to hold each other accountable for our actions while loving and supporting our fellow Americans.
None of this is possible in an authoritarian regime. That’s what makes our nation a much better country than communist China.