‘Don’t do stupid things’: PLA blames ‘separatists’ in Hong Kong for Mong Kok riot, criticises Western media’s coverage of incident
Chinese military’s comments appeared in commentary on front page of China National Defence News
The People’s Liberation Army has pointed a finger at “individual local radical separatist organisation(s)” for “plotting” the Mong Kok riot, and criticised the Western media for beautifying the unrest in its first remarks over the chaotic scenes on the first night of the Lunar New Year. It did not specify whether one or more such organisations were involved.
The military’s comments came in a commentary titled “Never Allow Any Powers to Bring Chaos to Hong Kong” published on Thursday on the front page of Zhongguo Guofangbao (or China National Defence News), a sister newspaper to the military’s flagship PLA Daily.
It was also carried on the front page of the PLA’s online news portal.
READ MORE: Beijing signals less tolerant approach in branding instigators of Mong Kok riot as Hong Kong ‘separatists’
The commentary mirrored the wording used to define the Mong Kok unrest from the foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei on February 12, when he branded groups behind it as “separatists” in a strongly worded statement.
It was unprecedented for Beijing to identify separatists in the city. This classification appears to place the rioters in the same category as separatists from the Tibet and Xinjiang regions, who are seen as a serious threat to national security.
This was the third set of comments from Beijing authorities since the riot, after the foreign ministry statement and the remarks from liaison office chief Zhang Xiaoming, who said on Sunday that those who took part in the riot were “thugs” who were “leaning towards terrorism”.
The commentary also lashed out at the Western media for how they reported on the riot.
“Some Western media called the riot the ‘Fishball Revolution’, the way they dubbed the illegal Occupy Central campaign the ‘Umbrella Revolution’ in 2014,” the commentary said.
READ MORE: Beijing’s top official in Hong Kong brands Mong Kok rioters ‘radical separatists inclined to terrorism’
Immediately following this criticism against the media, the writer repeated the rebuke Hong made on February 12 against the British government’s recent report on Hong Kong issues in which it said China’s actions over the “involuntary” removal of bookseller Lee Po to the mainland “constitutes a serious breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong”.
But the commentary made no reference to the disappearances of the booksellers from Causeway Bay Books.
The commentary said that the “separatists” had worked with “overseas anti-China power” in an attempt to create chaos in Hong Kong and the whole country, but their plot was “doomed to failure”.
In its concluding remarks, it urged the “local radical separatist force” and “overseas anti-China power” to stop “doing stupid things that went against the trend of the age and fundamental human values”.