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The ugly truth about a ‘beautiful sight’ in Hong Kong

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Given the mutual recriminations that characterize the sorry state of U.S.-China relations as of late, it is hardly surprising that China’s state media should pounce on the optics of U.S. democracy under siege earlier this month. The Jan. 6 “incident” has gotten ample coverage in the Chinese media, though, perhaps against expectations, much of the reporting has stuck to known facts and is generally fair and balanced. One glaring exception to the generally even-handed coverage of turmoil in the U.S. capital concerns an out-of-context quote by U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi that has been twisted to suggest she found beauty in the vandalism and violence in the riots that beset Hong Kong in July and August 2019.

The quote is not in question. She did describe a mass gathering in Hong Kong as “a beautiful sight to behold.” But she was not talking about riots, violence in the streets or the takeover of the Legislative Council; her quote predates all of that. Yet the notion that she condoned mob violence as a thing of beauty has a seemingly unstoppable life of its own. The idea of karma coming home to roost is a compelling gotcha narrative, even if the assertions it is based on have been misconstrued.

One weaponized use of the Pelosi quote in reference to the Capitol attack comes from a staunchly nationalistic Beijing tabloid. Global Times Editor Hu Xijin was an early adopter, if not the initiator, of the incorrect observation that Pelosi was praising Hong Kong violence when she invoked the term “beautiful........

© The Japan Times

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