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Is setting a man on fire the so-called 'beautiful sight to behold' that Pelosi described?

By Curtis Stone (People's Daily Online)    16:31, November 13, 2019

A man who had a quarrel with rioters is doused with inflammable liquid and set on fire in Hong Kong on Monday. (Photo/Provided to China Daily)

The situation in Hong Kong took another disturbing turn on Monday when radical protesters doused a man in a flammable liquid and set him on fire. For months, violence has rocked the city, and the violent acts have become extreme. Is the heinous act of setting a man on fire what US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi meant when she said the protests in Hong Kong are “a beautiful sight to behold?”

Of course, Pelosi is not the only politician who thinks what is happening in Hong Kong is praiseworthy. Members of US Congress are pushing for legislation to drive a wedge between the mainland and Hong Kong and multiple politicians have voiced support for the radical protesters. In October, US Senator Ted Cruz even showed up in Hong Kong wearing all black to show support for the black-clad protesters who have been wreaking havoc on the city.

These politicians are applying a double standard toward China, praising radical protesters in Hong Kong as freedom fighters, but labeling domestic groups as terrorists. In July, for example, Cruz called for the designation of Antifa—a loosely organized group of activists who often cloak themselves in black—as a domestic terrorist organization, describing its members as radicals who pursue a political agenda through violence.

However, suppose we apply the same logic to another problem, say the violence in Hong Kong. After all, radical protesters are creating fear through violence in the pursuit of political aims. In a rational world, they would be condemned for their violent acts, whether in Portland or in Hong Kong, but there is a double standard when it comes to China. Earlier this week, for example, Cruz—the same politician who labeled a domestic group as radicals and terrorists, penned a commentary in which he called Hong Kong “the new Berlin.”

Regardless of one’s views, any rational person would agree that violence is never the answer. Last year, when politicians including former President Barack Obama received suspicious packages that appeared to be bombs, the nation united against political violence. President Donald Trump called it a despicable act and later, at a rally, he decried political violence, saying, “Any acts or threats of political violence are an attack on democracy itself.”

There should be no double standard when it comes to political violence. At a press conference on Monday, Hong Kong SAR Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the mobs are not just damaging property but are causing injuries. The heinous act of setting a man on fire should serve as a reminder that the protests in Hong Kong have moved way past the point of legitimate political protest, and politicians who oppose violence in their country should come out and condemn the radical elements.

People often use the phrase violence begets violence. It means that violence solves nothing and only begets more violence. From targeting Beijing-friendly businesses to threatening ordinary people for merely speaking Mandarin to setting a man on fire who is still in critical condition, the tactics used by the mobs have become extreme. No country or city would tolerate such acts.

No one wants to see Hong Kong move closer to the abyss. There needs to be a return to rationality in Hong Kong to stop the storm and restore order, and US politicians who have egged the situation on should give up the double standard and stop using the “beautiful sight to behold” argument as a rallying call against China.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Du Mingming, Bianji)

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