Propaganda video only fuels mistrust between Beijing, Hong Kong and rest of the globe
By including Occupy activists in a footage to portray some of the ills in the world, the video only further strains ties between the city and the mainland
How a country acts on the international stage is shaped by many factors, such as its political ideology and the perceived threats to its national security and stability. This in turn affects foreign perceptions of the country and ultimately, international relations and world order. For a rising global power like China, the dynamics involved are even more complex.
The ways that China portrays its international and internal issues of concerns are not always shared by others. A case in point is a propaganda video recently released on the mainland. It began by contrasting the images of refugees in the Middle East and Central Asia with the harmonious scenes in China. It then warns against the independence of Tibet, Xinjiang, Taiwan and Hong Kong, with footage of Taiwan’s new leader, Tsai Ing-wen, posing with her predecessor Lee Teng-hui, as well as the images of the Occupy protests in Hong Kong in 2014 and student activist Joshua Wong Chi-fung. It also warned against the so-called colour revolutions that led to political upheavals in eastern Europe and the Arab world, saying the United States and Western forces were trying to topple foreign regimes in the name of freedom and democracy.
The video was carried in the microblog of the highest prosecution agency and the Communist Party Youth League. Whether it represents the official view remains unclear, though. What makes it intriguing is the interpretation of the threats originating from Hong Kong. The footage showed a news report from the pro-Beijing newspaper Wen Wei Po questioning Wong’s “American background”, without providing any proof. It is true that Wong later co-founded the political party Demosisto, whose call for “self-determination” on the city’s future is not endorsed by Beijing and many locals. But the truth remains that the Occupy movement was driven by the city’s quest for universal suffrage rather than independence.
The propaganda may be intended for the mainland audience. But it does hurt mutual understanding and trust when those involved feel they have been misrepresented.That said, local activists should also realise that what they say and do can be seen as provocative, which in turn adds to the already-strained Beijing-Hong Kong relations.
China has long moved beyond the era of isolation. It should better engage the world rather than resort to scepticism and hostility. The perpetuation of confrontation and distrust does nothing for global development and peacemaking.