Chinese officials and state media clobbered the Trump administration's response to violent protests sweeping the U.S., comparing the widespread unrest that began last week to the pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong.
In a Sunday tweet directed at her American counterpart -- Morgan Ortagus, who had previously criticized Beijing's crackdown on Hong Kong protests, China's foreign ministry spokespersons, Hua Chunying posted "I can't breathe."
Her message is a reference to some of the final words uttered by George Floyd, the African American man who died while being detained by Minneapolis police after a white officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes. His death, captured in a viral video as he pleaded that he could not breathe, ignited angry protests across the country that escalated over the weekend amid increasingly aggressive clashes between police and protesters.
In some instances, police responded with teargas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and ramming protesters with vehicles; protesters have been accused of looting stores and burning buildings, and several major U.S. cities have implemented curfews.
"I have a question for violent protesters in Hong Kong and their supporters there: Would you stand with angry Minneapolis demonstrators who attacked police station, or would you stand with President Trump who threatens to shoot 'These THUGS'?" Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of the state-run Global Times, wrote in a tweet.
Hu also took a swipe at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who once described the Hong Kong protests as a "beautiful sight to behold."
"Now they can witness it by their home windows," he wrote. "I want to ask Speaker Pelosi and Secretary Pompeo: Should Beijing support protests in the US, like you glorified rioters in Hong Kong?"
"Why did the U.S. glorify the so-called pro-independence forces in Hong Kong as heroes, but call the protesters disappointed with racism in the U.S. rioters?" Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for Chinese foreign ministry, said during a Monday press briefing, according to the South China Morning Post. "Why did the U.S. criticize the very restrained Hong Kong police but shoot its domestic protesters and even mobilise its National Guard troops?"
Twitter is officially blocked in China, although state officials and state-sponsored entities have accounts on the social media platform.
The comments come amid growing tensions between China and Hong Kong, as well as between Washington and Beijing.
One year after last summer's chaotic and frequently violent anti-government protests, the Chinese government announced plans to pass a controversial national security law to outlaw secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference in Hong Kong. The decision not only resuscitated the protests, but prompted President Trump to strip Hong Kong of its special status in a bid to punish China.
Hong Kong, a former British colony, was returned to China in 1997 under an agreement known as "one country, two systems," which allowed the city to retain a "high-degree of autonomy" for 50 years. The agreement expires in 2047.