After nearly two million Hong Kongers took to the streets to call for a controversial extradition bill to be completely shelved, the Chinese regime took measures to censor all related information, while state-run media spun the protests as anti-U.S. demonstrations.
After heavy criticism from netizens, China Daily, an English-language state-run media directed at international audiences, was forced to delete its related Facebook posts.
Hong Kong vs. Mainland
Nearly two million, or more than 25 percent of the city’s population, dressed in black and flooded the streets on June 16—making it the largest protest in the city’s history.
Hong Kongers demanded that the city government withdraw the extradition bill, which would allow mainland China to seek extradition of criminal suspects. The bill has drawn broad opposition within Hong Kong society, with many fearing that given China’s disregard for rule of law, the proposal could allow the Chinese regime to charge with impunity, while further eroding the city’s freedoms and autonomy.
It was the biggest news story in Hong Kong and around the world.
But on Chinese media websites, there were no videos, photos, or reports to be seen about the Hong Kong protests.
On Baidu, China’s most popular search engine, a search for the keywords “extradition bill” and “Hong Kong parade” garners no results about the one million turnout on June 9; protests on June 12, when police used tear gas, rubber bullets, and bean bags to disperse crowds; and the June 16 march.
U.S.-based Chinese media China Digital Times, which covers the Chinese regime’s censorship tactics, reported on June 16 based on insider sources that the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) Publicity Department, a government agency in charge of propaganda dissemination, ordered all Chinese websites to ban Hong Kong extradition bill-related videos, as well as comments on Cantonese pop songs that could be read as anti-CCP.
Fake News Reports
Some state-run media did report on the Hong Kong events, but by misrepresenting the facts.
A Xinhua report on June 17 described the protests as having a negative impact on Hong Kong’s social order.
The report did not report details about the protests, but said the protests were “not rational” because local businesses could not operate, causing financial losses. “Many adults didn’t read the extradition bill, and just blindly went on the streets [to protest],” the report said.
In fact, many shops and businesses have voluntarily joined a strike in protest of the bill.
In a June 18 report, Xinhua reported that the Hong Kong government suspended the extraditional bill, with claims that many Hong Kongers want the city to refocus on financial development.
Meanwhile, English-language state-run media China Daily falsely wrote in a June 17 report that Hong Kong parents had marched on June 16 against “U.S. meddling” in the city’s affairs.
The report falsely claimed that people marched to the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong and Macao calling on the United States to “stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs.”
China Daily also published an editorial on the same day, in which it said the protesters were fooled by “manufactured radicalism,” and the purpose was for “dividing Hong Kong society and damaging the city’s reputation for law and order.”
On China Daily’s official Facebook page, the related posts were deleted after many comments by netizens calling out the falsehoods.
Mr. Chen, a senior mainland Chinese reporter who traveled to Hong Kong to witness the march on June 16, explained to the Hong Kong edition of The Epoch Times why he believed the Chinese regime was so nervous about the extradition bill fallout.
“Actually, the Chinese regime is having a big headache about the U.S.-China trade war. Now this Hong Kong incident is like a second battlefield for the CCP, which made Beijing feel more pressured,” Chen said.
Chen added that Chinese authorities are not allowing any media reports on the Hong Kong protests and deleting related content that netizens are circulating because the regime is worried that Chinese will be encouraged to protest for their rights if they see what Hong Kongers have been doing recently.
“The Beijing government is extremely scared,” Chen said.
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