Protests reveal the brutality of Xi’s dictatorial rule

The Chinese Communist Party’s crackdown on freedom of speech at home is now being exported abroad

Behind the choreographed spectacle of this week’s Communist Party’s big bash lies brutality.

Autocratic ideology merges with national security to drive President Xi Jinping’s repressive regime inside China and the outside world.

In the space of 72 hours, two incidents separated by more than 5,000 miles have illustrated the long arm of his authoritarian rule and his disdain for freedom of speech.

On a bridge near the Haidian Campus of Renmin University in Beijing on October 13, a lone protester was detained after unfolding banners branding Xi a “dictator.” It took place less than 48 hours before the highly-hyped 20th National Congress in the Great Hall of The People.

Just days later, a small demonstration against Xi outside the Chinese Consulate in Manchester, a city in northern England, left one Hong Kong-born protester badly beaten. It also sparked a diplomatic and political storm.

“From the video footage and media reports, this looks like an unprovoked attack by Chinese officials against peaceful protesters on British soil,” Sacha Deshmukh, the UK’s chief executive of Amnesty International, said.

“We know only too well that protests are instantly and ruthlessly crushed in mainland China and in Hong Kong. But it’s shocking to see this being played out on the streets of Manchester,” he added.

The facts:

  • The unknown “Bridge Man” has become an iconic symbol of resistance against Communist Party oppression across the world.
  • His manifesto of defiance, such as “We Want Freedom” and “We are Citizens, not Slaves,” fueled an outpouring of support, media reports revealed.
  • Similar signs sprang up on university campuses in the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia and elsewhere.
  • In the UK, another call for Chinese freedom was heard and silenced with violence outside the Manchester consulate.

We have made our view clear to the Chinese authorities: the right to peaceful protest in the UK must be respected.

Zac Goldsmith, of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

Delve deeper: “Footage posted by the BBC showed a man being hauled through a gate into the consular grounds, where he was kicked and punched by five men as he lay on the ground,” Reuters reported.

Between the lines: “The incident was triggered when several men came out of the consulate to take down protest banners, including one with the slogan: “Heaven will destroy the Chinese Communist Party,” and a caricature of Xi wearing a crown,” the news agency said.

Big picture: A police investigation has been launched into the incident after officers had to move in to rescue a pro-democracy protester. Foreign Secretary James Cleverly also summoned Chinese chargé d’affaires or deputy ambassador, Yang Xiaoguang, to his office to demand an explanation.

What was said: “We have made our view clear to the Chinese authorities: the right to peaceful protest in the UK must be respected,” Zac Goldsmith, the minister of state at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, pointed out.

Alternative view: China’s reaction was predictable. “Disturbing elements illegally entered the Consulate General in Manchester and endangered the security of Chinese diplomatic premises,” Wang Wenbin, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, told a media briefing.

Fact check: Video evidence showed that statement lacked credibility as the protests took place outside the consulate until Chinese diplomatic staff dragged one of the demonstrators into the compound.

What really happened: In an interview with British broadcaster Sky News, the protester in his 30s said he “feared for his life” after recently emigrating to the UK from Hong Kong. 

Cuts and bruises: “They are like gangsters. It shouldn’t be like that [here]. It’s not in China you know. This is the UK,” he said, showing cuts to his face and bruises on his body.

China Factor comment: The Communist Party has become so addicted to using violence in Hong Kong, Xinjiang and other parts of China that it is now exporting Xi’s brand of “democracy” abroad. Time to expose these “Wolf Warriors” dressed as doves of peace.