PLA and the latest wave of media hysteria
Updated 12:22, 17-Nov-2019
Tom Fowdy

Editor's note: Tom Fowdy is a British political and international relations analyst and a graduate of Durham and Oxford universities. He writes on topics pertaining to China, the DPRK, Britain and the United States. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

On November 16, troops from the People's Liberation Army Barracks of Hong Kong engaged in a voluntary community activity to clear up the debris left behind by rioters throughout the city. Months-long violence in Hong Kong has inflicted severe damage and constraints upon public infrastructure.

However, Western media was quick to respond with abject hysteria suggesting that China is "sending troops" into Hong Kong, "threatening the city's autonomy."

Some of the headlines were outright dishonest, such as the Guardian running "Chinese troops deployed to remove Hong Kong roadblocks," trying to imply that troops were being assigned to combat protesters. That was a mere clean up job, yet the Western media portrayed it as something else.

It's time to run through the facts. First of all, the PLA Garrison in Hong Kong is not a foreign occupying power like the Western commentary continues to assume.

Secondly, in their ideological bias, it exposes just how unreasonable and one-sided media coverage of Hong Kong is if a simple cleaning up is rendered as a threatening activity.

It's also worth noting that China's Central Government has held a PLA Garrison in Hong Kong since 1997. The Western commentariat like to think it "doesn't belong there" or if it has "no right." But actually it does! 

The Basic Law of Hong Kong specifies quite clearly that the aspect of defense and foreign policy rests with the government of the People's Republic of China as a whole, thus the PLA is its designated armed force. 

Still, that isn't really the point, is it? Some soldiers went out to clean up the rubble, there is no formal deployment. This is a mainstream media fabrication, an extensively dishonest one at that. They are cleaning up, and there's no need for any more debate about it. 

PLA soldiers help clear up roadblocks near Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China, November 16, 2019. /CGTN Photo

PLA soldiers help clear up roadblocks near Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China, November 16, 2019. /CGTN Photo

The reality is that protesters have pursued an ever excessive level of destruction in the city which has pushed it to the point of total breakdown.

MTR stations have been completely destroyed, roads have been upheaved with bricks removed to build barriers with the intention of blocking traffic, and many businesses have been forced to shut shop.

The outlook is clear, Hong Kong can barely function under these conditions and as a result additional manpower is needed to urgently clean things up.

What is perhaps most disgraceful is that the mainstream media are peddling the narrative that this kind of behavior is normal and acceptable. They are pursuing an ideological bias so deep and focused on one certain goal that they are completely offset from the facts and empirical reality.

In every angle, they seek to demonize the authorities and try to "prove" that Beijing is "taking over" the city, without having an honest discussion about the behavior of protesters who are enabled by the overwhelming perception that they can "do no wrong."

Thus, once you look past the hysteria, you realize that the PLA is doing an honorable job. This is an act of praiseworthy public service, giving the city some breathing space so that it can coherently function despite the turmoil it has been placed under.

A military institution is never just about weaponry, but also about what it can offer and contribute to a broader community. If there is a problem, who else will clean up the mess? 

Thus, as a whole, the overwhelming Western media discourse that Hong Kong is better off in a state of anarchy, ruination and complete chaos continues to dominate perceptions. Not only is it inherently dishonest but also morally wrong.

Any sensible resident would thank the soldiers for their sincere service, rather than dwindle into conspiracy theories and abject hysteria about anything else.

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