Daily Memo: An Anniversary of Political Unrest

More than three decades after Tiananmen Square, Beijing is capitalizing on the riots in America.

31 years after Tiananmen Square. Thursday is the 31st anniversary of the deadly crackdown in Tiananmen Square, when the military opened fire on thousands of protesters. True to form, Beijing is tightening its hold on pro-democracy movements in Hong Kong, with the local government banning an annual Tiananmen vigil for the first time in three decades. (It did so under the auspices of public health, but throngs of protesters showed up anyway, standing roughly two meters apart.) It also passed legislation making it illegal to, among other things, boo the Chinese national anthem at soccer matches. As could’ve been expected, Chinese state media is also having a field day with the political unrest in the United States, saying that high-level calls for military intervention exemplify American hypocrisy and decline. It’s a false equivalent – at least for now – but it’s bound to resonate in certain parts of the world – especially when wielded by as talented a propagator of disinformation as Beijing. It’s always difficult to determine just how much things like ideology, arguments over human rights and democracy, and public perception in the developing world might matter to something like the U.S.-China competition; hard power typically matters more. […]

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