The riots taking place in Washington DC, the storming of the US Capitol by hundreds of President Donald Trump's supporters which ended with four dead, 52 arrested and 14 police officers injured on Thursday shocked the world, and Chinese experts said this unprecedented incident will mark the fall of "the beacon of democracy," and the beautiful rhetoric of "City upon a Hill" will perish.
The world is watching as US allies feel disappointed when they saw the country that they used to admire descend into a huge mess. Chinese observers said this is a "Waterloo to US international image," and the US has totally lost legitimacy and qualification to interfere in other countries' domestic affairs with the excuse of "democracy" in the future.
While Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a routine press conference on Thursday that China hopes Americans can regain peace, stability and security soon, she urged people to reflect on why some people and media in the US gave a completely different rhetoric on the social turmoil in Hong Kong in 2019.
"What words did they use about Hong Kong? What words are they using now?" the spokesperson asked. "The mainstream media in the US are condemning the incident, calling it 'violence,' 'thugs,' 'extremists,' and 'disgrace.' What words did they use to describe Hong Kong? 'Beautiful sight,' or 'fighters of democracy'."
Words like "karma," "retribution" and "deserving" were frequently mentioned in Chinese netizens' comments when they saw the latest episode of the US' real version of The House of Cards - which saw Trump supporters storming the Capitol, messing up House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office, clashing with police officers and looting items. The pictures went viral in US, Chinese and international news outlets after the riots began Thursday morning.
On Wednesday US time, thousands of rioters gathered at the National Mall to protest the US presidential election results. At a campaign-style rally about an hour before the mob broke through police lines at the Capitol, "Trump had urged them to go to the building," USA Today reported.
Lü Xiang, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, told the Global Times on Thursday that "this proves that the US political system is unable to contain the US leader or politicians with influence to incite ordinary people to challenge the system and the result of their 'democracy.' The world is witnessing the 'the beacon of democracy' become gloomy."
Shen Yi, a professor at the School of International Relations and Public Affairs at Fudan University, said what happened in Washington "has pricked the beautiful bubble of the universal values shaped by the US."
"The 'beacon of democracy' is falling down, or at least becomes gloomy. It might be too early to declare the 'twilight of the gods' in the US, but that day is coming closer and closer."
Hundreds of pro-Trump protesters pushed through barriers set up along the perimeter of the Capitol, where they tussled with police officers in full riot gear, some calling the officers "traitors" for doing their job, CNN reported.
About 90 minutes later, police said demonstrators got into the building and the doors to the House and Senate were locked. The riots ended up with four deaths - including one woman shot by Capitol police.
Former US president Barack Obama said the violence will be remembered as "a moment of great dishonor and shame for our nation." President-elect Joe Biden said US democracy is under "unprecedented assault" and called on Trump to "demand an end to this siege," AP reported.
Tom Fowdy, a British political and international relations analyst and a graduate of Durham and Oxford universities, told the Global Times on Thursday, "What we see tonight is the product of an extremely polarized political environment in the US."
He noted that it could be described as "cracks" in US democracy, as such a system works only if it has legitimacy among all its stakeholders.
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat have temporarily locked Trump's accounts, as those tech giants scrambled to crack down on his claims about the presidential election amid riots in the Capitol.
"I know your pain. I know you're hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us" but "You have to go home now. We have to have peace" and "We have to have law and order," Trump said in a video several hours after the riots started, CNN reported.
Lü said the violence is easy to stop, but the polarization of society in the US can't be fixed that easily, and will keep harming Americans even after Trump steps down.
'You deserve it'
All of those horrific moments were heavily discussed on Chinese social media networks. They reminded many Chinese people of the 2019 Hong Kong turmoil which turned violent after anti-government rioters stormed the city's Legislative Council (LegCo) on July 1, 2019.
Chinese web users still remember the distress and anger they felt when they saw rioters in Hong Kong storming the LegCo Complex, scrawling graffiti, smashing and robbing items. However, instead of condemning the violence, US politicians hailed the "courage" of these mobs, Western media praised the "restraint" of the rioters, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi even called it a "beautiful sight to behold."
Now, this "beautiful sight" is taking place in the US. A Chinese netizen commented, "Pelosi can enjoy the beautiful sight - even at her own office desk! For such a long time, US politicians called rioters 'freedom fighters' in other countries. Now, they finally have retribution!"
"The baseless challenges against Biden's victory launched by some Republicans in the US Congress and the seditious speech delivered by Trump have encouraged Trump supporters to believe they are right to storm the Capitol. This is very similar to those Hong Kong opposition politicians' activities in the LegCo and their secessionist ideas which affected many immature Hong Kong residents to unwisely and ridiculously challenge the Hong Kong government and to damage public order," Lü said.
When a similar scenario take place in Hong Kong's LegCo in 2019, some US politicians like Pelosi praised rioters in the city as "freedom fighters" and Pelosi also said the riots in Hong Kong is a "beautiful sight to behold." This has inspired some talented netizens to come up with a slogan for US mobs to continue their protests.
A Chinese web user said on Chinese Twitter-like social media network Sina Weibo that "Pelosi could never see this kind of 'beautiful sight' to come to the place she works in every day. US politicians, you deserve this 'beautiful sight.' Enjoy yourselves, and make America great again."
A photo of protesters seemingly holding Pelosi's office chair has also gone viral on Sina Weibo, prompting netizens to joke that there's still a smell of "flattery" left on the chair which Pelosi would call "a beautiful sight."
As of press time, the topics "Trump said he would never concede" and "Trump supporters storm Capitol" were in the "mostly searched and seen" list on Weibo.
Many Chinese netizens "confessed" in their comments that they saw the "chaos in the US" as revenge. After inciting so much chaos around the world under the pretext of "freedom and democracy," the US finally tasted the "karma" of its double standards.
Fowdy said that there is a noticeable contrast in discourse as to how the two events are portrayed in Hong Kong and in the US. When rioters stormed the HK LegCo, it was heralded as an act of brave rebellion by "pro-democracy" protesters, but when Trump supporters stormed the US capitol building it was described by the BBC as a "violent, pro-Trump mob."
"There is a clear media double standard. The United States has long held a belief that unrest in its own country is always objectively wrong, but ought to be encouraged for political purposes elsewhere," he said.
People around the world, especially those from third world countries, also mocked the incident.
Mohamad Safa, a Lebanese diplomat and also the country's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, made his comment on the incident on Twitter, saying that "If the United States saw what the United States is doing in the United States, the United States would invade the United States to liberate the United States from the tyranny of the United States."
His tweet has received more than 41.8K "like" as of press time on Thursday.
A tweet written in Portuguese by a Brazilian web user said "this is the first coup attempt in the continent of America without the participation of the US embassy."
Many US allies also expressed their concerns over the protests. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the scenes as "shameful," while Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said they are "unbelievable scenes" and "totally unacceptable attack on democracy."
Their voices also irritated many Chinese netizens, who slammed their double standards when it came to interfering in China's Hong Kong affairs.
Chinese netizens commented, "Why didn't Boris Johnson say he backs the US 'freedom fighters' for fairness, the way he said he backs Hong Kong protesters 'every inch of the way'?"
Chinese analysts said comments written by Chinese and other countries' web users show that many people have been offended by the arrogance and bullying of US hegemony for a very long time, and they have seen enough double standards frequently applied by the US and its Western allies. This time, they have the right to "let off steam" by mocking the chaos in Washington.