As the pro-democratic movement in Hong Kong continues into the fifth month and the ruling Communist Party has vowed to tighten its grip on the world’s financial hub, angry protesters have frequently targeted Chinese banks and state-owned businesses to challenge Beijing’s authority.
On Saturday, heavily armed police moved quickly to disperse large crowds of demonstrators who marched in the centre of Hong Kong.
While police used tear gas and water cannon, young protesters managed to smash the office of China’s official news agency Xinhua, and throw fire and a petrol bomb into the lobby. Its secured doors and windows were broken.
Xinhua has denounced the attack on its Hong Kong office by pro-democracy protesters as “barbaric” and a savage act.
“The practice of the black rioters once again shows that ‘stopping the violence and restoring order’ is Hong Kong’s most important and urgent task at present,” a spokesperson for Xinhua said in a Facebook post.
“It was the first strike against the official Chinese news agency in a show of anger against Beijing,” said the Associated Press. “The targeting of Xinhua as a key symbol of the mainland’s presence in Hong Kong is one of the most direct challenges to Beijing”.
For nearly a century, Xinhua has done only one thing: to sing songs in appraisal of a dictatorship.
The predecessor to Xinhua was the Red China News Agency founded in November 1931 at the Soviet Zone of Ruijin in Jiangxi province.
It began broadcasting news to the outside world in the name of Chinese Soviet Radio until October 1934 when the Central Red Army started its Long March.
In January 1937, Red China News Agency was renamed New China News and the agency was changed to Xinhua News Agency. CSR was its original name and later in 1940 called XNCR, short for New China Radio. Its first English broadcast was on September 1 of 1944.
After 1949, Xinhua News Agency moved to Beijing and became a state-run news agency. During the Cultural Revolution in December 1967, the CCP issued a Decision of Military Control over Xinhua News Agency ordering a military group of 13 army officials to take over the news agency.
In 1982, Xinhua News Agency was restructured into a government organization directly under the administration of the State Council.
Today, the state-run press agency is the biggest and most influential media organization in China, as well as the largest news agency in the world in terms of correspondents worldwide.
In war time against the Nationalist Party led by Chiang Kai-shek before 1949, Xinhua News once advocated US-styled freedom and democracy to deceive the Chinese people.
During the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, Xinhua gave some favorable coverage to demonstrators and intellectuals supportive of the movement.
For the most part of its history, Xinhua has done lots of evil as It has acted as the “the eyes and tongue” of the Chinese Communist Party.
Shamefully In 1998, as a freelancer reporter, I personally worked with two retired Xinhua journalists to write some articles for the People’s Daily praising the Communist Party’s achievements in a book entitled Glorious China 50 Years.
All Xinhua and China Daily journalists I met or worked with were intelligently good and hard-working people. Unfortunately they have to bow to the CCP dictatorship in order to make a living.
Controversies over the world’s biggest propaganda machine
For four years during my employment with Macau China Travel Service, Xinhua Macau was just above my office as we shared the same building.
When I visited the Time Square in New York early this year, the most astonishing scene was the “magnificent” running ads screen of Xinhua News Agency.
In 2005, Reporters Sans Frontieres called Xinhua “The World’s Biggest Propaganda Machine”, pointing out that Xinhua’s president held the rank of a minister in the government. The report further stated that the news agency was “at the heart of censorship and disinformation put in place” by the government.
On April 28 of 2014, Song Bin, vice-president and chief editor of Xinhua’s Anhui branch, was found dead in the newsroom. Song was the author for some award-winning reports on social and economic issues; he had been battling depression before ending his own life by hanging himself.
Xinhua’s branch in Hong Kong was not just a press office, but served as the de facto embassy of the PRC in the territory when it was under British administration.
The directors of the Xinhua Hong Kong Branch included high-ranking former diplomats such as Zhou Nan, former Ambassador to the United Nations and Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, who later negotiated the Sino-British Joint Declaration on the future of Hong Kong.
His predecessor, Xu Jiatun, was also vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Basic Law Drafting Committee, before fleeing to the United States in response to the military crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protests, where he went into exile.
In November 2018, Xinhua News Agency and the Associated Press (AP) of the United States signed an memorandum of understanding to expand cooperation with the U.S. news service, which worried some lawmakers in the US congress, demanding AP to release the text of its memorandum of understanding with Xinhua.
The U.S. Justice Department has ordered the state-run Xinhua to register as foreign agents to combat Chinese propaganda operations among other activities.
Although the Hong Kong Journalists Association has deplored “any act of sabotage against the media” and called for an end to violence against the press, Xinhua has never been a free press. It is a representative of the Chinese Communist Party.
By Cloudy Seagail