Catalan protest shows double standards on Hong Kong riots backfiring on West

By Yang Sheng Source:Global Times Published: 2019/10/17 23:13:40

More Western regions likely to face similar situation as Catalonia: analysts

Catalan regional police clash with separatist protesters during a counter-protest against a demonstration in support of Spanish police in Barcelona on Saturday. Monday will mark one year since a banned independence referendum in Catalonia which was met with a massive police crackdown, captured the world's attention and plunged Spain into its worst political crisis in decades. Photo: AFP

Catalan protesters and secessionists are using similar tactics as Hong Kong rioters in the past few months on the streets, burning facilities in Catalan towns, paralyzing the airport in Barcelona and wearing masks to avoid arrest, which Chinese experts said would backfire on political elites of the West in their cities even as they continually voice support for Hong Kong rioters and separatists. 

The "Be Water" nature of Hong Kong's protests - fluid, flexible and fast-moving - has taken on a new form half way across the world in Catalonia, Spain as a tsunami, US media Quartz reported in an article that published on its website titled "Hong Kong is exporting its protest techniques around the world."

Actually Hong Kong rioters are not actively exporting their tactics to the world, Song Luzheng, a research fellow at the China Institute of Fudan University in Shanghai, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

"The real reason is that many people in Western society saw that the mainstream media and political elites of the West are voicing support for Hong Kong riots and then some extreme activists could use this to legitimize their behavior and to mobilize more people to follow them," Song said.

After a Spanish court on Monday handed down lengthy jail terms to nine Catalan leaders for their roles in a 2017 secession attempt, tens of thousands of Catalans took to the streets to protest what they saw as heavy-handed political persecution and blatant repression of the region's political rights.

Some 10,000 people, according to Spain's interior ministry, blocked access to Barcelona airport for hours on Monday, heeding widespread calls on social media to "Turn Catalonia into the new Hong Kong," reported The Local, a multi-regional English-language digital news publisher.

The Catalan protesters were referring to Hong Kong airport of two months ago where thousands of protesters shut down the international transport hub. 

At Barcelona airport on Monday, strikingly similar scenes played out as thousands occupied both the terminal and the roads outside the building, eventually forcing the cancellation of at least 100 flights, Quartz reported.

Song said Western governments and media "mostly support the unity of Spain which makes them identify Catalan protesters as secessionists or separatists but now they would be very difficult to criticize the incidents in Catalonia when they call riots in Hong Kong 'a beautiful sight to behold,' then this is how the double standard backfires on them."

Meanwhile, Extinction Rebellion climate activists in the UK are also targeting the airport. 

More than 1,100 people have been arrested since the start of Extinction Rebellion's protests this week in London, including 50 detained at City airport on Thursday, the Guardian reported.

Sun Keqin, a research fellow at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations in Beijing, told the Global Times on Thursday that "Western societies also have many challenges and problems, and if their political elites and mainstream media ignore the rule of law and voice irresponsible support to separatism and riots in other countries in the name of human rights and freedom, then more chaos will be copied in their homes." 

George Galloway, a former member of UK Parliament, posted an article on the Russia Today website saying that "When supporters of Catalan leaders jailed for organizing a democratic vote advance on Barcelona airport, media make a fuss over 'separatists' causing chaos. When the same tactics used in Hong Kong, it's a 'pro-democracy' protest."

Newspaper headline: Support for Hong Kong backfires on West

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