BEIJING (Reuters) – China drew a comparison on Thursday between the storming of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump and last year’s often-violent pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, but noted that no one had died when demonstrators took over the legislature of the China-ruled city.
Clips of the chaotic scenes from Washington aired repeatedly on Chinese state television.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily briefing said that while events in Hong Kong in 2019, when the city’s legislature was stormed, were more “severe” than those in Washington, “not one demonstrator died”.
Relations between Beijing and Washington are at their worst in decades over a range of disputes, including China’s heavy clampdown on Hong Kong, and Chinese diplomats and state media often draw attention to news of violence or chaos in the United States.
Months of anti-government protests in Hong Kong in 2019 included the July 1 storming of the city’s legislature, in a campaign for democratic reforms that Beijing ultimately quashed with new national security legislation. One man died after falling from a parking lot during one protest in the city.
Police in Washington said four people died and 52 were arrested after Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory.
“We also wish that U.S. people can enjoy peace, stability and security as soon as possible,” Hua said.
Hua also condemned U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s comments in which he said Washington may sanction those involved in the arrest of over 50 people in Hong Kong and will send the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations to visit Taiwan.
A comment with thousands of favourable votes on China’s Twitter-like Weibo said the Washington protests were “over 90%” the same as those in Hong Kong. European leaders were showing “double standards” in condemning one but not the other, it said.
“The response and words used by some in the U.S. to what happened in Hong Kong in 2019 were completely different to what they used for today’s ongoing events in the U.S.,” Hua said.
Around the world, leaders expressed shock and concern, condemning the attempted subversion of democracy.
“What happened today in Washington DC is not American, definitely,” French President Emmanuel Macron said in a video message on Twitter.
Russia’s deputy U.N. Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy likened the images to protests in Ukraine that toppled Russian-backed President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovich in 2014.
“Some of my friends ask whether someone will distribute crackers to the protesters to echo the Victoria Nuland stunt,” he tweeted, citing a 2013 visit to Ukraine when then-U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland offered food to protesters.
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