OPINIONS Observer: Misinformation campaign misleads Hong Kong public

OPINIONS

Observer: Misinformation campaign misleads Hong Kong public

By Yuan Shi | People's Daily app

14:04, December 03, 2019

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Various protesters assumed dead return back to life, not as a medical miracle, but because of vicious rumors. The Hong Kong public was informed of several deaths of protesters during a vehement clash at the MTR Prince Edward station with police on August 31.

Three months later, a local media ascertained the accusation was a false claim and the six protesters who were believed dead in the alleged random attacks by police said they were actually transferred to hospitals or police stations.

For months, police departments, medical services and firefighters have explained that nobody perished in the police operation at the Prince Edward station, but their statements were poorly accepted, particularly by the opposition camp.

Since the start of the anti-extradition rallies, Hong Kong has been inundated with false rumors and deliberately fabricated accusations against police, which has largely misled the public.

Examples abound with police officers being blamed for tossing petrol bombs to protesters to former district councilor Junius Ho being accused of staging a political stunt after being stabbed by an opponent during an election campaign.

An egregious case is the death misery of a 15-year-old girl. Protesters insisted police murdered the girl and ignored the parents’ clarification that the girl took her own life and appealed for no more public attention. The protesters words and deeds have drifted from the truth and squarely challenged the stability and order in Hong Kong.

When the district council election was about to begin, the hype of the China threat emerged to seize some Western headlines.

Australian media and intelligence officials were fascinated with the confession of a self-proclaimed Chinese agent who turned out to be a convicted fraud and entered Australia with fake passports. Simon Cheng, former employee of the British consulate in Hong Kong, claimed he was tortured by mainland police, but tapes released by Shenzhen police showed Cheng was detained on charges of paying for sex and he requested no official notice to be sent to his families.

Such claims superficially look like coincidences, but based on the timing and content people have reasons to believe the misinformation campaign has risen to be another tool for ulterior motives.

The rumors both interfere with elections and fool the masses. Beside smearing the government and driving a wedge between police and civilians, the rumors also glorify and disculpate crimes, thus making law enforcement more difficult and perpetuating violence. By stirring up hatred and fear, the ultimate goals of the rumors are to create social unrest and seize the governance of the SAR eventually.

Even though the public will not believe the biased rumors, it is still difficult for them to make correct judgments in an environment where truth and falsehoods are indistinguishable. And such chaos is precisely what the protesters are happy to see, and the real intention of the Western rivals after sowing the seeds of "color revolution" via the media.

A rumor will stop spreading when it comes to a wise person, and the soberness and rationality of the citizens are essential to end the rumors.

The more panicked the masses are, the more room there is for rumors. The calmer the people are, the less access there is for rumors. Therefore, the top priority for Hong Kong is still to bring the violence and chaos to an end and restore order. The rumors of demagoguery and defamation will certainly be destroyed after Hong Kong returns to its previous tranquility and stability.

(Compiled by Chen Lidan and Shan Xin)

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