'Hostile Foreign Forces' Behind Hong Kong Protests, Say Chinese State Media

Police officers stand guard in front of pro-democracy protesters on the main roads in the occupied areas outside government headquarters in Hong Kong's Admiralty on Oct. 13 Photograph by Kin Cheung/AP Photo

“Hostile foreign forces” is the bogeyman often trotted out in China’s state media to explain movements that the party doesn’t like. And it has gotten a workout recently, regularly cited in articles as the behind-the-scenes impetus for Hong Kong’s student democracy protests. Just who from overseas is trying to subvert the Communist state, however, is usually left unsaid, even when it’s obvious just who is being referred to. That is, until now.

The U.S. is meddling in Hong Kong, encouraging the protests, while it denies doing so, said the Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece the People’s Daily on Friday. “It is hardly likely that the US will admit to manipulating the ‘Occupy Central’ movement, just as it will not admit to manipulating other anti-China forces. It sees such activities as justified by ‘democracy’, ‘freedom’, ‘human rights’ and other values,” said the front-page commentary of the overseas edition.

The piece, entitled “Why the US never gets bored with color revolutions,” goes into some detail on the alleged interference. It mentions that Louisa Greve, a vice president at the Washington-based nonprofit National Endowment for Democracy (which is funded largely by the U.S. Congress), met with top leaders of the Occupy Central movement earlier this year.

“The US purports to be promoting the ‘universal values’ of ‘democracy,’ ‘freedom’ and ‘human rights’, but in reality the US is simply defending its own strategic interests and undermining governments it considers to be ‘insubordinate,’” the commentary continues.

“The US may enjoy the sweet taste of interfering in other countries’ internal affairs, but on the issue of Hong Kong it stands little chance of overcoming the determination of the Chinese government to maintain stability and prosperity,” the People’s Daily concludes.

When asked on Friday whether the U.S. has had a role in encouraging the protests, a State Department spokesperson strongly denied it. “We categorically reject accusations that we are manipulating the activities of any person, group, or political party in Hong Kong,” said deputy spokesperson Marie Harf on Oct. 10.

“What is happening there is about the people of Hong Kong, and any assertion otherwise is an attempt to distract from the issue at hand, which is the people expressing their desire for universal suffrage and an election that provides a meaningful choice of candidates representative of their own voters’ will.”

Apparently, the Chinese party propaganda apparatus isn’t convinced. Beijing continued its attack today, getting downright nasty in its criticism of both the student protesters and their purported overseas abettors. “‘Occupy Central’ will only leave a stink for 10,000 years; it will not make its mark on history,” said a commentary in the Global Times, a paper owned by the People’s Daily.

A separate article in the same paper today went after what it called the “black hands” and “hostile foreign forces” aiding the demonstrators, reported the University of Hong Kong’s China Media Project.

“‘Occupy Central,’ which has resulted in the most violent riots in Hong Kong since the handover, is already seen as a catastrophe for Hong Kong,” the Global Times wrote. “Who is providing ‘black money’ for it? Which people should be held criminally liable?”

“‘Hostile forces’ is a time-honored term in the Chinese Communist Party lexicon,” explained David Bandurski, editor of the China Media Project website, in an Oct. 10 analysis. While the expression was first used in the Soviet Union under Stalin, “in China, it first appeared prominently in the People’s Daily in 1948, the same year the newspaper became the official propaganda organ of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party,” wrote Bandurski.

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