China Slams EU’s ‘Hypocritical’ Reaction to Hong Kong Protests
China’s embassy in Paris this week slammed French and European reactions to ongoing pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong, describing European support for protesters as hypocritical.
France was singled out for criticism, with Beijing calling for a show of empathy given France’s own recent experience with the often-violent yellow vest movement demonstrations.
“We express our deep dissatisfaction and our profound contempt for the hypocrisy of the European statement and the darkness of the intentions of some vis-à-vis China,” China’s French embassy wrote in an online statement.
Hong Kong, a former British colony turned Special Administrative Region under Chinese authority, has been brought to a standstill by four months of citywide anti-government demonstrations. The protests have drawn global attention, not least due to allegations of police brutality amid escalating violence.
When asked last week about the Hong Kong police force use of real bullets against demonstrators, France’s Foreign Ministry referred to a statement from the European Union.
“The escalation of violence and continuing unrest in Hong Kong, including the use of live ammunition, resulting in critical injuries to at least one person, are deeply troubling,” reads the first paragraph of the European Council release. “The European Union maintains its position that restraint, de-escalation and dialogue are the only way forward.”
French officials have worked to keep official reactions under wraps in recent weeks; President Emmanuel Macron is set to visit Beijing next month, and ties between China and Europe are already tense.
Macron’s visit to China comes at a time of increasingly vocal pushback against Beijing’s expansive influence on the content. Macron himself has joined forces with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to push for a tougher EU stance on the Asian giant.
“The time of European naivety is ended,” Macron declared earlier this year when Beijing signed a memorandum of understanding with Italy on the Belt and Road Initiative, “For many years we had an uncoordinated approach and China took advantage of our divisions.”
For its part, the rare statement this week from Beijing’s embassy in Paris sought to draw attention to efforts by Hong Kong authorities to resolve the ongoing civil unrest. It described the October 1 protests on China’s National Day, during which police used live rounds on protesters, as an attempt by demonstrators to destabilise the central government.
France was called on to show solidarity in the wake of its own nationwide protests, including criticism of police responses.
“The European Union has publicly glorified the rioters’ abuses and has flouted the Hong Kong police’s self-defence measures to defend their lives against their aggressors,” the embassy wrote. “In these circumstances, we showed empathy for France. We would like it to show today the same spirit towards us.”
The Yellow Vest movement marks its first anniversary this month, but protester numbers have dwindled since the summer.