Chinese state media seized upon the chaos at the U.S. Capitol as an opportunity to drive home a narrative of American hypocrisy, casting the incident as “karma” and “retribution” for Washington’s support of global protest movements.
The U.S. had “tasted the karma of its own double standards” after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, the Communist Party-backed Global Times newspaper reported, citing comments from Chinese internet users. The U.S. was tasting its own medicine after inciting chaos around the world under the pretext of freedom and democracy, the paper wrote, citing online users.
The events were widely reported elsewhere in Chinese media. An official social media account of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, China’s top law enforcement body, closely covered the developments, and articles using hashtags related to the incident garnered over 100 million views on social media platform Weibo.
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) January 7, 2021
Most other Chinese media were careful to stick to the facts, reposting videos and photos rather than embellish reports with additional color or commentary. One report from state broadcaster China Central Television zeroed in on the fact that few protesters were wearing masks despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
While state media treaded carefully in its reporting, some users on Chinese social media were quick to draw a comparison between the riots and 2019’s pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, during which demonstrators stormed the city’s Legislative Council.
A Weibo account belonging to a department under China’s foreign ministry asked whether “the beacon has fallen” while highlighting a June 2019 remark by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi praising democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong as a “beautiful sight to behold.” The post included the hashtag “Pelosi experiences the beautiful sight herself.”
The Global Times also picked up on the comparison, making a composite of scenes from Hong Kong protests and mobs on Capitol Hill.
“The U.S. National Guard moved to deal with the rioters in the Capitol, which is also a slap in the face for the U.S. over its previous remarks on similar incidents in other countries and regions and in China’s Hong Kong,” the paper wrote.
China has long criticized the U.S. for interfering in its internal affairs and for holding double standards. State media have in recent months used American law enforcement’s response to internal unrest to justify Beijing’s own actions against the sometimes-violent anti-government demonstrations in Hong Kong.
Amid separate street violence in the U.S. earlier in 2020, Global Times Editor-in-Chief Hu Xijin had said China’s government “has not shown any support for the riots in the U.S. I hope that Americans notice Beijing’s restraint.”
The Global Times described the latest scenes in Washington using a Chinese term referring to a ruler’s subordinates coming to his rescue when his authority is threatened.
“This is likely Trump’s closing performance to the world,” blogger Buyidao wrote in an article shared by the newspaper. “Thankfully, Chinese people can watch this drama in a relaxed mood.”- Bloomberg