Hong Kong protests dominate headlines — except in China

The massive pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong have received little to no coverage from China’s state-run news outlets.

If you hadn’t heard of the protests in Hong Kong by now, you’ve either been living under a rock — or more likely you’ve been living in China.

The massive pro-democracy movement has led newscasts across the globe.

Of course, the same can’t be said for mainland China, where authorities maintain a tight grip on the country’s news media. Here’s a look at the brief, and misleading, coverage coming out of China.

CCTV: “The Occupy Central movement has badly affected people’s lives in the region.”

CCTV: “Both Hong Kong’s chief executive and government have been listening attentively to the public, respecting and accommodating different views.”

As for print coverage, you’d be hard-pressed to find any front-page stories. According to the University of Hong Kong’s Chinese Media Project, deep inside the pages of more than 20 Chinese newspapers this week was this article from state-run news outlet Xinhua.

An article which was short on substance and instead packed with quotes from Hong Kong’s Beijing-backed leader, who’s been calling for an end to the protests.

The Communist Party’s flagship paper, the People’s Daily, took a more disparaging tone — describing the protests as “farcical.”
Much the same from China Daily, with reporting that focused on the disruptions the protests have made to daily life in Hong Kong.

And from the Global Times, some choice words for the so-called “extremists” organizing the protests, along with a prediction the “the radical activists are doomed.”

Not only is the coverage unbalanced, at least some of it is inaccurate.

A correspondent for the South China Morning Post points out state television in Shanghai is portraying the protesters as nationalists celebrating Chinese independence — not activists demanding voting reforms.

OK, so you get the idea — the response from China’s media has been pretty one-sided. And no surprise there.

But the sheer size of these protests has presented a unique challenge for the authorities who are intent on keeping citizens in the dark out of fear the unrest could spread to the mainland.

To keep it from spreading online, the government has been removing posts from social media and has blocked Instagram altogether in what Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post describes as “record censorship.”

Chinese censorship, of course, is nothing new. Its media regularly keeps silent over politically sensitive subjects.

Politically sensitive subjects in China, that is. The same news outlets offering next to zero coverage on the Hong Kong protests didn’t hesitate to weigh in on this summers Ferguson, Missouri, protests.

Officially, China’s response is that the protests are illegal, and the Hong Kong government’s handling of the situation has the backing of Beijing.

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