Racism a ‘chronic disease’ in the US

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Detroit police arrest a protester during marches. AFP

China said on Monday that the ongoing civil unrest in the US highlighted its severe problems of racism and police violence, and exposed Washington’s double standards in supporting Hong Kong’s protesters.

“Black people’s lives are also lives. Their human rights must also be guaranteed,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters in Beijing, referring to the death in custody of an unarmed African American man in Minneapolis.

“Racism against ethnic minorities in the US is a chronic disease of American society. The current situation reflects once more the severity of the problems of racism and police violence in the US,” Zhao added.

Beijing has long been infuriated by criticism from Western capitals, especially Washington, over its handling of the protests that shook Hong Kong last year.

Zhao said on Monday that the US government’s response to protests at home was a “textbook example of its world-famous double standards”.

“Why does the US lionise the so-called Hong Kong independence and black violence elements as heroes and activists, while calling people who protest against racism ‘rioters’?” Zhao asked.

China has insisted that “foreign forces” are to blame for the turmoil in Hong Kong, where pro-democracy protesters – described by Beijing as rioters – have marched in the millions since June last year and often clashed with the police.

Last month, Beijing introduced a plan to impose a national security law on Hong Kong that it said was needed to curb “terrorism”.

Western nations see it as another attempt to chip away at the semi-autonomous city’s freedoms.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying also took aim at Washington.

“I can’t breathe,” she said on Twitter, with a screenshot of a tweet by US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus that had criticised China’s policy in Hong Kong.

Hua was quoting the words Floyd was heard saying repeatedly before his death – after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.