How the Chinese reacted to the incident at the Capitol
How the Chinese reacted to the incident at the Capitol
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Riots at the Capitol

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January 9, 2021

In this issue:

1. China Reacts

  • ‘On Double Standards’
  • 'Chinese netizens jeer riot in US Capitol as "Karma," say bubbles of "democracy and freedom" have burst'
  • 'A Few Tweets from Hu Xijin 胡锡进, Editor of The Global Times'

2. ‘Architect of Trump China Policy Resigns’

  • 'Matt Pottinger resigns, but his China strategy is here to stay'  

3. A Pro Tip from 'The Relevant Organs'

  • 'Dealing with Insurrectionist Leaders the Chinese Way'  

As it does so often, the cover of The New Yorker captures the meaning of a pivotal event.

'In the cover for the January 18th issue of the magazine, the Cuban-American artist Edel Rodriguez captures the mood of the day.

  • “A part of America died on January 6th,” Rodriguez said.
  • “The flag at half-mast marks that moment.”

I knew as I watched that ‘part of America’ die on Wednesday that this issue would have to be devoted to how the Chinese reacted to the incident at the Capitol and how the government used it for propaganda. Still, this issue has been the hardest for me to write.

  • First, because in doing the research for this issue, I had to return over and over to the shock and horror of watching the Capitol invaded to stop the lawful counting of electoral votes at the incitement, unbelievably, of the U.S. president. My stomach is still in knots as I write this.
  • Second, because I knew that the Chinese would have to do nothing more than report the news to achieve any political ends, no need for spin (although there was plenty, but not from main media outlets). This was highlighted by the spokesperson of the PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs at a regular press conference.

In response to the question, ‘Some American media reported that China is taking advantage of the chaos in the United States to expand China's influence, and the United States is even more unable to stop China's development. What is your comment on this?’, Hua Chunying said:

  • What's happened at the Capitol has been extensively covered by the US media.’
  • ‘We've seen TV programs playing out violent scenes 24/7.’
  • ‘We've heard world leaders commenting on it.’
  • ‘People from all walks of life in the United States are talking about it.’
  • ‘Then why, when the Chinese media are following this widely-reported event, it suddenly became propaganda?’
  • Why indeed.

What Chinese media did not cover as extensively was Congress’ reconvening that same evening to continue the counting of electoral votes and declaring the people’s will that Joe Biden become the next U.S. president.

  • While watching those proceedings, I was still too dispirited by the events of the afternoon to appreciate the resilience Congress was demonstrating.

Then the next day, all these threads came together as I read this Tweet from Scott Kennedy of the Center for International and Strategic Studies, posted during the Congressional joint session at 2:36am:

At that moment, I too felt lucky to live in a democracy – for as long as we can keep it.

A note: I've spotlighted Matt Pottinger, Deputy National Security Advisor, before.

  • Because of the President's role in the Capitol riots, Mr. Pottinger resigned his post.

As I have pointed out and as WaPo's Josh Rogin confirms when he writes:

  • ‘Most Americans will likely see him as yet another fed-up Trump official, without realizing the greater significance of his four years of White House service.’
  • ‘Even though Pottinger’s name was largely unknown to the public, his influence on U.S. foreign policy will be felt for years to come.’
  • ‘The incoming Biden administration is set to preserve many of the changes in the government’s approach to China that Pottinger, along with other like-minded officials, worked to implement.’

Keep an eye open for Mr. Pottinger and his next gig.

  • Unlike other China Hawks in the administration, he has a serious clue about China and the discipline to craft a strategy (even if the President didn't have the discipline to implement it).
  • Mr. Pottinger's impact on China policy won't end with his resignation.

Finally, to cap a miserable week, a pro tip from The Relevant Organs to the U.S. on managing the aftermath of the insurrection:

  • 'You definitely need a show trial.'


CHINADebate, the publisher of the China Macro Reporter, aims to present different views on a given issue.Including an article here does imply agreement with or endorsement of its contents.
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