China's propaganda machine was launched as the government sought to defend new laws aimed at limiting dissent and protest in Hong Kong.
In Burning editorials and derogatory posts on social media, the state media portrayed the proposed laws, which would amount to the strongest crackdown on Hong Kong since it returned to Chinese control in 1997, as necessary to protect the Communist Party government in Beijing. Commentators also lashed out at the United States, warning US officials, who have threatened to punish if the laws are enacted, to stay on the sidelines.
This is how the party is using the media to defend its plans to strengthen control of Hong Kong.
Beijing says the law is necessary to stop "extremist,quot; protesters trying to overthrow the government.
The Chinese government is reviving one of its favorites Conspiracy theories to defend the new security law, saying that protesters in Hong Kong are extremists working with foreign countries to try to overthrow the government.
Calling Hong Kong a "weak link,quot; in China's national security, Xinhua, the official news agency, said on Friday that the new laws would save Hong Kong from "terrorism,quot; and "chaos,quot; by protesters, who They said they were colluding with foreigners. forces to "destroy the continent,quot;.
"The facts have shown that Hong Kong has become a,quot; main card "for external forces to hinder the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation," said the Comment posted by Xinhua.
There is no evidence that protesters, who have flooded the streets of Hong Kong for the past year to demand greater civil liberties, are working with groups abroad. Many say they are motivated by China's growth invasion of the state of Hong Kong as a bastion of civil liberties with rights and institutions not granted on the continent, such as freedom of expression and independent courts.
While the idea that stricter laws are needed to stop extreme protesters has gained popularity within China, experts say it is unlikely to resonate outside the country.
"The argument that the Hong Kong mass protests were caused by international subversion is so far-fetched that it will not convince anyone outside of China," said Susan Shirk, president of the U.C. 21st century China center of San Diego.
State media points to the United States.
Commentators in China quickly criticized US officials for threatening to take countermeasures if the Chinese government moves forward with the laws. President Trump warned Thursday that the United States would react "very forcefully,quot; to the new national security laws.
Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of Global Times, a state newspaper known for its blatant nationalism, said China would not kindly consider retaliation by the United States. "Hong Kong belongs to China," he wrote on Twitter, "not the United States."
An editorial in the Global Times said on Friday that China could resist any effort by the United States to retaliate, such as denying preferential economic treatment to the territory. "As long as the United States dares to play its cards," the The editorial said: "China will play the game without hesitation."
Nationalism is on display in the Chinese media, with some media posting photos of people waving the Chinese flag in front of Hong Kong's skyscrapers.
China and the United States are already in a heated dispute over Beijing's handling of the coronavirus, and the new crackdown in Hong Kong is likely to further inflame tensions between the two countries.
Vitriol against the United States is common in Chinese publications, with senior party officials convinced that the United States and its allies are working to systematically stifle China's rise as a superpower. With the Hong Kong problem, the attacks are likely to escalate.
"Many people in China have already made a decision: they believe that the relationship between China and the United States cannot worsen," said Yik Chan Chin, professor of communication and media studies at Xi & # 39; an Jiaotong-Liverpool University in Suzhou. , China. "This type of speech will become common now. They really don't care what the President of the United States will say. "
The media keep the focus on Xi Jinping.
While Hong Kong's security laws are attracting a lot of attention outside of China, the national media in China is trying to keep the spotlight on Mr. Xi.
Mr. Xi is front and center as he participates in China's biggest political event of the year, the annual session of the National People's Congress, where Hong Kong laws are being introduced. He is using the congress to project strength at a time when criticism of China is growing on the global stage.
China's Central Television, the state-run broadcaster, presented Mr. Xi's vote to protect the health of Chinese citizens "at all costs,quot; in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak.
While Mr. Xi did not refer to the Hong Kong crackdown, he has seized the moment to promote the strength of China's authoritarian system. On Friday, Mr. Xi told congress delegates that "China's socialist democracy is the broadest, most genuine and most effective democracy to safeguard the fundamental interests of the people," according to China. news reports.
China is censoring alternative views on Hong Kong.
With Congress in full swing, the authorities are eager to avoid any disruption. And China's censorship apparatus is in overdrive.
Criticism of the party's decision to move forward with Hong Kong's security laws was quickly removed from social media on Friday. Instead, Chinese sites featured gigantic editorials defending China's handling of the riots in Hong Kong.
"Don't underestimate the central government's determination to deal with the Hong Kong issue," read an article published by China Central Television.
People’s Daily, the party’s flagship newspaper, published a video clip showing thunderous applause when security laws were introduced inside the ornate Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Adding a suspenseful soundtrack to the effect, the video proclaimed, "This shows the determination to maintain Hong Kong's prosperity and stability!"
The government also tried to restrict coverage of the new security law by the foreign media. The BBC released a report on Friday about the introduction of security laws in Congress. Every time I mentioned the legislation, the screens in mainland China went dark.
Albee Zhang and Claire Fu contributed to the investigation.