Media show ‘old playbook’ in covering illegal HK protests

By Chen Qingqing and Zhang Hui Source:Global Times Published: 2020/7/2 22:36:04

An old playbook of opposition groups and black-clad rioters was staged again on the streets of Hong Kong on Thursday, where some Western and local media again showed their double standards in covering illegal protests in Hong Kong, which had been repeated since 2019's social turmoil. 

The day after the national security law for Hong Kong was enacted witnessed some chaotic and violent scene in certain places in the city, as anti-government protesters tried to defy the law and disrupt public order by ignoring the repeated warnings of the police, engaging in an unlawful assembly, blocking roads, vandalizing shops, and setting fire at traffic intersections. 

However, when some Western and local media reported Wednesday's chaos, most of them came up with biased coverage about so-called police brutality by showing one-sided pictures and narratives like, "a woman screaming when she was surrounded by police," or "a cameraman was hit by a water cannon," "police tearing a protester's shirt, kneeing on her neck." 

And opposition media outlets like Apple Daily also came up with messages to the public: "The Hong Kong Police will shoot you if you take a video of them" on law enforcement procedures. 

"Last year while we were clearing the roads in Central, rioters started throwing stones at us," Angelo Giuliano, a financial consultant in Hong Kong from Switzerland, who has been outspoken in condemning the unrest in the city, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

Giuliano said he saw some similar tactics from last year's social unrest, noting that some media coverage of the protests was "helpless and disgusting," as they did not even intend to tell a full story. 

The Apple Daily has been condemned by Hong Kong police for distorting facts and disregarding journalistic ethics in their report on Wednesday. Police said on Facebook that a man drove a motorcycle, which displayed a flag bearing the words "Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Time" into several police officers in Wan Chai on Wednesday, which injured several. However, the Apple Daily reported the motorcycle was "suddenly blocked by anti-riot police," and "the driver was dragged to the ground."

A protester uses a sharp object against a police officer. The Hong Kong Police Force’s newly formed special unit to safeguard national security begins functioning decisively to end riots in the city on Wednesday. More than 370 people have been arrested as of press time. Photo: AFP

Hong Kong police have been too tolerant to reporters obstructing police actions compared with US police, Shen Yi, a professor at the School of International Relations and Public Affairs of Fudan University, told the Global Times. 

"Hong Kong police should be stricter, and treat those reporters as rioters. Arrest them immediately if they act like rioters, and they deserve it if they hurt themselves when police make the arrests," Shen said.

Compared to the restraint of the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF), US police are considered as brutal and reckless as the public record shows. For instance, in 2019, cases involving gun-related deaths during law enforcement by US police reached 1,004, and as of mid-June, at least 13 were dead across the country due to the George Floyd protests. 

A rioter stabbing a police officer during the illegal assembly outraged the public, as pictures showed that the officer's left arm was injured and bleeding. Some netizens said the HKPF is too gentle, and should follow the American example by "giving rioters a taste" of how American police deal with the thugs.

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