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Occupy Central

Chinese media blames foreigners over Occupy protests

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 October, 2014, 3:37am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 June, 2018, 4:23pm

From the South China Sea to Tibet and Xinjiang, the mainland is beset by problems brought on by foreign interference. Now Hong Kong has become part of the country's volatile frontier, experiencing turmoil at the hands of meddling foreign governments.

So said mainland state media, as the city's massive protest movement for universal suffrage entered its fourth day yesterday.

Academics say state views are shaped by a Marxist outlook and history. Hong Kong has played a critical role in earlier political movements on the mainland.

Pointing fingers could make it more difficult for foreign governments to lend their support and easier for the mainland authorities to deflect blame.

In a commentary published on the eve of National Day, the People's Daily website compared the Hong Kong protests with colour revolutions in former Soviet countries and the Arab Spring in the Middle East, insisting that all were instigated by the West.

"Today they are repeating their tricks, and get very excited when they see 'moves' in Hong Kong. Their dirty hands are reaching out through the cracks," read the commentary, which was also carried on the Xinhua website. "Can't you see that British and American diplomats are already making irresponsible remarks?"

The White House on Monday urged the Hong Kong government to exercise restraint. British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Tuesday that he was "deeply concerned" about the situation in Hong Kong.

University of Nottingham contemporary Chinese studies professor Steve Tsang said that by claiming foreign interference, Beijing had made it difficult for any other countries to lend support to the Hong Kong demonstrators as any support could be read as meddling.

"It's a pre-emptive strike making it very difficult for the American and British governments," Tsang said.

Chinese foreign ministry officials also expressed concern over foreign interference during meetings with diplomats posted to the city, several diplomats have said in recent months. On Monday, Beijing underscored its point by sending an official letter to consulates in Hong Kong, reminding diplomats and their staff not to join the protests.

David Zweig, a professor of political science at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, said Beijing's habit of blaming domestic problems on foreign governments could have its roots in the administration's Marxist mentality.

"There is a strong viewpoint within Marxism that talks about the external having an impact through the internal," said Zweig, who studied Marxism in China.

"There are internal contradictions everywhere, but these contradictions don't have to turn into major problems until there are some external forces."

Beijing might be sensitive about what happens in Hong Kong because of the role the city has played in aiding opposition movements.

Deng Yuwen, a former editor of the Study Times, a newspaper affiliated with the Central Party School, said officials sometimes put the focus on foreign interference to sidestep their own responsibility.

"By saying there are foreign factors, officials may be held less accountable for the problems facing the government," Deng said. "Officials may know the other reasons behind the problem, but they will tell the public that foreign interference is to blame."