All over the world photos of Hong Kong and its massive protests against the controversial extradition law was front page news. However, China Daily, an English language state run newspaper, presented some alternative facts about what happened.
China Daily had a different perspective on the protests in Hong Kong. They published a story today (June 17) about the protest which drew an estimated 2 million people that took place yesterday with the headline: “HK parents march against US meddling,”. The article covers a report that states a group of 30 people marched yesterday (June 16) to the US consulate, with one member of the group saying that it was “despicable that some US politicians repeatedly interfered in the extradition law matter.”
— George Magnus (@georgemagnus1) June 17, 2019
The English language, China Daily, has an overseas circulation of around 600,000 copies.
The extradition bill was already indefinitely suspend leading up this weekends protests. Yesterday’s massive protest yesterday called for the bill to be totally withdrawn, amid anger over police use of force.
China has tried to control the messaging in a number of ways.
Domestically, it’s censored “Hong Kong” and related search terms on platforms such as messaging app WeChat, with only state-media-approved reports of the protests in Hong Kong and the extradition law made available to users. China’s foreign ministry, meanwhile, has repeatedly characterized the protests as foreign-instigated, a message that is echoed in Hong Kong’s Beijing-friendly newspapers (link in Chinese) and propagated by nationalistic Chinese tabloid Global Times.
In its overseas edition, the People’s Daily wrote today (link in Chinese) that the extradition bill continues to draw large support from across Hong Kong society while imploring the city to “restore to calm”—without explicitly mentioning the protests at all.
This move by the Hong Kong administration should not come as a surprise. We should remember that Hong Kong is governed under the principle of “one country, two systems”, under which China has agreed to give the region a high degree of autonomy and to preserve its economic and social systems for 50 years from the date of the handover. The handover of Hong Kong took place on July 1 1997, they are nearly half way through the 50 year grace period.
If you are wondering how the Chinese people can accept such heavy controls on their media, I’d love to remind you that the firewall has created a much more savvy user than other geographies. They’re even using song lyrics to show support and speak openly in code. If you’re curious how they’re discussing it, we’ve got an article here about how the Hong Kong protests are being discussed on Weibo.
More: How people in China are discussing the Hong Kong protests