Global EditionASIA 中文双语Français
Home / Opinion / From the Press

Hong Kong is victim of double binds and media manipulation

By Chris Lonsdale | China Daily Hong Kong | Updated: 2019-11-25 09:47
Share - WeChat
Hundreds of Chinese students protested what they called biased messages about Hong Kong as Nathan Law Kwun-chung, a main figure behind the violence in Hong Kong, attended an event at New York University (NYU) on Monday night. [Photo/China Daily]

At his meetings at the BRICS Summit earlier this month, Chinese President Xi Jinping suggested that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government get tough on rioters who continue to vandalize and destabilize Hong Kong. “Hong Kong’s most pressing task remains bringing violence and chaos to an end and restoring order,” he said, according to China’s official Xinhua News Agency.

Sadly, it’s not that easy. The Hong Kong police, and the entire HKSAR government, are in a very difficult double bind. If the police stay home, people will be beaten and property destroyed. We have been seeing this for weeks now.

The reason that this will continue to happen is the very clear intention of movement influencers to do whatever is needed to provoke a violent response from the Hong Kong police and, ideally (from their point of view) ensure that there is ultimately a military response from the People’s Liberation Army.

You may wonder, why on earth would this be the desire of the movement?

Ultimately, it’s all about the narrative. Very simply, the narrative goes, “China is an evil totalitarian state that murders its own people. The Hong Kong government is a Chinese puppet, and therefore is also evil. China must be stopped. We will stop China through bringing down the Hong Kong government.”

Therefore, the goal clearly is to paint the Hong Kong government as a brutal police state that is using force to repress the people. The message is that the government will murder people in order to get its way. All of this is in plain sight.

Within the context of this narrative, if the police actually take action to stop attacks on people and property, irrespective of how restrained they are, they will be vilified in the international media, and the media will deliberately distort the facts in order to maintain the consistency of the narrative.

The mainstream media are fully complicit in this propaganda war, and are twisting information to support the idea that “the Hong Kong government is committing atrocities”.

To be very clear, it is this narrative, more than anything, that is providing the fuel that continues to drive the riots and the violence. Fear begets violence, and the narrative drives the fear.

A blatant example, from earlier this month, is the British newspaper The Guardian. It came out with a video news story talking about two violent episodes that happened in Hong Kong. The Guardian reported that in one situation, a Hong Kong police officer shot a protester.

Of course, The Guardian completely removed the part of the video showing the policeman being attacked by five men who were clearly intent on “rescuing” someone he was arresting and also stealing the officer’s firearm. The lack of meaningful context allows The Guardian to sell the narrative of “murder and oppression by the ruling regime”.

In the second incident, The Guardian removed the scenes showing the moment that a 57-year-old man was set on fire by rioters, mentioning the event by avoiding any visuals that would give the same visceral reaction as would have been created when people saw a protester shot by police.

By deliberately filtering information in this way, The Guardian sells the narrative that the Hong Kong Police Force is guilty of indiscriminate violence, driven by instructions from Beijing, while the “protesters” in Hong Kong really are quite cuddly, and haven’t done anything wrong.

In another Guardian article, we read the headline: “Hong Kong: protesters wary over elite troops clearing roadblocks”. The article talks about how the PLA troops stationed in Hong Kong came out of their barracks in shorts and T-shirts on Nov 16 to clean up rubble on the streets left over from the riots.

However, the photo that goes with the article shows two men in full riot gear, thereby suggesting by association that armed Chinese troops are now being sent onto the streets of Hong Kong. The message again is that “the murderous regime from Beijing is now in control”. Lies, delivered with plausible deniability.

This form of deliberate bias is not new to The Guardian. After all, many months ago, they printed a story about US political consultant Paul Manafort visiting Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, including at a time when Manafort was working on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. This story was patently false, as Manafort’s passport had no stamps for visits to the UK in the time frames reported by The Guardian and there was also no surveillance footage of him entering or leaving the Ecuadorian Embassy, the most surveilled building in the entire world at that time!

Sadly, The Guardian is but one example of the entire Western mainstream media, which have in their entirety become stenographers for Western imperialist ambitions. As we have all seen, Hong Kong is swamped with so-called journalists, all competing with each other to sell increasingly lurid stories of how the “evil empire” is devouring Hong Kong in front of our very eyes.

It is this that drives the violence, making the MSM totally complicit in the insanity now ripping Hong Kong apart. In order to “bring the violence and chaos to an end and restore order”, the Hong Kong government will need to take the global MSM head-on. How?

I can for now think of two things. First, “video archivists” should be embedded with every police team operating in the territory, and these videos should be used relentlessly to counter the narratives that are being used to smear the force. Total transparency should be the name of the game.

Then, on top of that, the government should sue every publisher for every story that is clearly a lie, and therefore defamatory. Especially when the government itself has all the evidence in hand from the videos it collects.

Is that enough? Probably not. But unless we take the media lies head-on, Hong Kong’s future is bleak.

Most Viewed in 24 Hours
China Views
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349