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China hits back at US over race protests after Trump criticised HK

Washington

CHINESE officials and state media needled the Trump administration over race-related protests and looting that have engulfed US cities in recent days, after weathering criticism and threats from Washington over Beijing's own moves to quell unrest in Hong Kong.

Over the weekend, China's foreign ministry and state media seized the opportunity to fire back at Donald Trump. Chinese propaganda outlets played up scenes from the US of violence, burning buildings, harsh police responses and protesters decrying government as part of a broader narrative that western democracies are regularly plagued by chaos and unrest that would never be permitted in the mainland.

They included foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, who retweeted US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus - who had urged people to stand against the Communist Party over its treatment of Hong Kong - and added "I can't breathe", some of the last words uttered by George Floyd before he died that have become a rallying cry.

China's leaders recently moved to impose sweeping new national security legislation on the Asian financial hub. The decision has alarmed foreign governments and prompted the US to threaten retaliation, including Friday's announcement that it would "begin the process" of eliminating the policy exemptions that allow America to treat Hong Kong differently from the mainland.

Yet as President Trump expressed alarm about the "deeply troubling" situation in Hong Kong, he soon found himself facing similar scenes on the US's own streets. The US is now struggling to contain widespread protests triggered by outrage over the death of Mr Floyd, an African-American man who died after a white police officer held him to the ground and pressed a knee into his neck for more than eight minutes.

China's foreign ministry on Monday accused the US of "double standards" in the way it dealt with protests at home and in Hong Kong.

"Why does the US beautify the so-called Hong Kong independence and violent elements as heroes and fighters while it calls its own people protesting against racial discrimination 'rioters'?" another ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, told a daily news briefing in Beijing. "Why does the US point fingers at the constrained law enforcement by Hong Kong police but turn a blind eye to what happens at home while using shooting and even the National Guard against the protesters?"

On Chinese mico-blogging platform Sina Weibo, video clips showing Minneapolis police shooting paint rounds at residents on their porch for violating a curfew went viral in the mainland after being posted by top state media outlets including the People's Daily newspaper and the Global Times.

By Monday morning, "US National Guard firing into residents homes" was one of the top 10 search topics on the Twitter-like service, and the hashtag "US riot" had a total of 1.36 billion views.

Ms Hua also tweeted a link to a video report on the US violence with the words "THUGS & HEROES HYPOCRISY". The tweet was a reference to double standards over the Hong Kong protesters, who received praise from US lawmakers as China repeatedly condemned them for acts of vandalism, arson and throwing petrol bombs at police.

"US politicians call riots in other countries 'a beautiful sight', they ignite flames everywhere and wish the world to be in chaos," state broadcaster CCTV said separately in a commentary on Saturday. "But when the minority groups in their own country are fighting for legitimate rights, they cannot wait but to crack down harshly. Such hypocritical double standards are truly disgusting."

In a series of tweets, Hu Xijin, the editor of the Global Times, ridiculed Mr Trump and other senior US politicians for previously encouraging the protests in Hong Kong. BLOOMBERG

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