NYT opinion piece backing China’s crackdown in Hong Kong sparks backlash

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A New York Times opinion piece published Thursday that supports China’s crackdown in Hong Kong sparked backlash on social media.

The op-ed titled “Hong Kong is China, Like it or Not” argues that pro-democracy protests and advocates “have done great harm to the city” including “stirring up chaos and disaffection toward our motherland.”

The Times describes op-ed author Regina Ip as a “legislator and member of the Executive Council in Hong Kong,” but in a 2003 article, she is labeled as “Beijing’s enforcer.” Her ties to China are not mentioned in the op-ed. 

“The West tends to glorify these people as defenders of Hong Kong’s freedoms, but they have done great harm to the city by going against its constitutional order and stirring up chaos and disaffection toward our motherland,” she wrote about democracy activists. 

Ip praised China for passing the internationally-criticized national security law in response to the protests that shook Hong Kong throughout last year. The law passed in June forbids what its officials see as subversion, secession and collusion with foreign forces in Hong Kong.  

“Something had to be done, and the Chinese authorities did it,” she wrote, later adding that “one person’s ‘severe’ is someone else’s intended effect.”

The op-ed also says “any attempt to alter Hong Kong’s formal political status … is a fundamental challenge to China’s sovereignty.”

“Like it or not, Hong Kong is part of China. And given the two’s vast disparity in size and Hong Kong’s growing economic dependence on the mainland, the city’s progressive integration with China is unavoidable,” Ip wrote. 

Several people took to Twitter to criticize the op-ed’s appearance, including Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), who called the article’s publication “shameful.”

“This is shameful. Once again, the @nytimes publishes propaganda from Communist China that’s attempting to cover up the CCP’s human rights violations,” he posted. “The people of Hong Kong are fighting for the basic human rights they were promised.”

Other journalists, including Yashar Ali and Kathryn Watson, also decried the piece.

The Times did not immediately return a request for comment. 

The op-ed’s publication comes months after the Times published an op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) that received massive backlash, including among reporters at the Times. 

Cotton’s June op-ed titled “Send In The Troops,” called for the military to respond to the sometimes violent protests against police brutality. Multiple Times reporters said it endangered the lives of Black journalists. 

The newspaper eventually included an editor’s note with Cotton’s piece saying it “fell short of our standards and should not have been published,” and the editorial page editor resigned over the op-ed.

Several critics of Thursday’s op-ed on Hong Kong brought up the backlash over Cotton’s op-ed, including The Daily Wire co-founder Ben Shapiro. 

“So, any of those woke staffers who care so much about human rights going to demand the resignation of the op-ed editor who is now printing open Chinese propaganda cheering the complete tyrannical takeover of Hong Kong?” he asked in a tweet. 

Tags China Hong Kong Hong Kong national security law Hong Kong protests national security law New York Times op-ed op-ed The New York Times Tom Cotton

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