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Ignoring Pro-Democracy Protests, China's Media Trumpets Pro-Beijing March in Hong Kong as the ‘Majority’

Chinese political cartoonist Wang drew a cartoon of the  Hong Kong protest. It shows the Mainlanders marching in matching T-shirts, organized into groups. Photo from Twitter.

Chinese political cartoonist Wang drew a cartoon of the Hong Kong protest. It shows mainland Chinese marching in matching T-shirts, organized into groups. The left banner says: “Let us show the Hong Kongers what patriotism is.” Photo from Twitter.

China's media gave minimal coverage last month to a pro-democracy campaign in Hong Kong demanding greater say in choosing the candidates for the city's chief executive election in 2017.

But on Aug. 17, when tens of thousands marched through Hong Kong to protest one group's plans to stage a massive sit-in calling for genuine democratic elections, mainland media was quick to report on the pro-Beijing event. 

Official press agency Xinhua called the rally a victory for Hong Kong's “silent majority”: 

Opinion of the silent majority should not be kidnapped by a handful of people. So, they stepped forward Sunday and told the extremists that any action or proposal violating the laws, such as occupying Central and civil nomination for chief executive candidates, are not popular in Hong Kong.

Government mouthpiece People’s Daily said the rally represented the wish of most Hong Kongers. It called Occupy Central With Love and Peace and the demand for citizen nomination illegal.

China has promised Hong Kong, a former British colony, a direct vote for the next chief executive in 2017, but insists that a committee approve the candidates. Protesters suspect Hong Kong will only have pro-Beijing candidates to choose from, defeating the purpose of the election.

Local police said the march attracted a crowd of 110,600 people, though researchers at the University of Hong Kong estimated that between 79,000 and 88,000 participated. Mainland media said the rally on Sunday had gathered over 193,000 people

By comparison, the university estimated that a pro-democracy rally on July 1 drew between 154,000 and 172,000 people, while organizers put the number at more than 500,000. After that rally, more than 500 people were arrested at a rehearsal sit-in for the Occupy movement.

Some participants at the pro-government were paid to join the rally, while from State Corporation were required to participate, according to various media reports. Mainland Chinese were reported among the protesters. South China Morning Post, an English-language newspaper in Hong Kong, said that the rally had “mainland flavor”.

On Twitter, Jeremy Wong from Hong Kong criticized the march:

On China’s popular microblogging site Sina Weibo, some users compared China's attitude towards this rally with the previous pro-democracy protest in July. Lawyer Zhang Zhiyong wrote:

媒体上反对占领中环轰轰烈烈!谁又来科普什么叫“占领中环”

Media reported extensively about the counter protest against Occupy Central! Who can tell us the background about Occupy Central?

Qing Lijun” echoed the same sentiment:

你们知道为什么占领中环么?知道所谓的普选到底怎么回事吗?如果不清楚,你们到底为什么就第一反应是占领中环的都是“煞笔闹事”的?为什么会因为一个一看就奇怪的反占领运动而感激涕零,爱国情绪高涨呢……

Do you know why we Occupy Central? Do you know what the election is really about? If you are not sure, why do you assume Occupy Central means to make trouble? Why do you suddenly become so moved and patriotic by the strange counter Occupy movement?

Referring to the 2012 China anti-Japanese demonstrations that were believed to have been “almost certainly sanctioned by the Chinese authorities”, user Suohua Buliu” wrote:

其实共产党资助的“反占中”游行已经在占领中环了,只不过不是本港激进分子,而是大陆腐败政权。这种侮辱人民群众智商的事两年前就发生过一次–全国各地声势浩大的保钓大(da)游(za)行(qiang)。狗急跳墙,这是自取灭亡的先兆吗

In fact, the counter Occupy Central movement supported by the Chinese Communist Party has occupied the central district, although not through radical Hong Kong groups, but through mainland political power. Such a protest aiming to fool people happened two years ago. They're so eager, is it the forecast of self-destruction?

Professor He Weifang from Beijing University's law school called for fair reporting:

过去占中活动也是规模浩大,官方媒体绝不报道。到了反占中,就连篇累牍,这无助于香港问题的解决。全面报道,反而能让港人感到公平,也让大陆人全面而切实地了解香港舆情和港人的多元化诉求。这自信,那自信,不敢直面民意民情的真相,鸵鸟战术,谁都看得出来,你没有自信!

State media didn't report on the previous Occupy Central movement. When it comes to counter Occupy Central, there are countless articles. It doesn't help solve Hong Kong's problems. Only with comprehensive reporting will Hong Kong people feel treated fairly. It also helps mainlanders understand Hong Kong's situation. When you dare not face the real situation and people's real demands, everyone can see that you don't have confidence.

Web user “Baihua Niuzai concluded:

理论自信,是因为他们手里有枪;制度自信,是因为他们掌权;道路自信,是因为除了他们自己,谁对怎么走路都说了不算!__他们雇佣人员到港游行,那是在信息如此发达的今天拿自己的屁股当脸,给全世界看

The so-called confidence is that they have guns and power in their hands, so no one else can meddle with their decisions. They hired people to protest in Hong Kong, but in a world where information is so widespread, the whole world can see their real intention.

Follow our in-depth coverage: Hong Kong's Umbrella Revolution

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