Chinese state media urged Hong Kongers to “vote to end violence” Sunday, as record numbers turned out for district elections after months of unrest in the city. Lengthy queues snaked out of polling stations across the semi-autonomus territory in the election for 18 district councils—largely toothless bodies which set policy on issues such as bus routes and garbage collection. State media on the mainland urged voters to give support to pro-establishment forces to “end social chaos”, but the big turnout is widely expected to benefit democratic forces.
In a tweet, the nationalistic Global Times asked voters: “What would you choose? A peaceful and prosperous city or a violent uncivilized one?” “The choice is yours,” the tabloid posted, along with pictures of long polling queues and the text: “Cast vote to end violence”.
An editorial in the Beijing News said it was an opportunity for voters to “end the social chaos and violence in Hong Kong with their own hands, and restore the social order”.
One interviewee told state broadcaster CGTN that turnout was high because voters wanted to end the unrest. “You can see that there’s a high turnout... because people are very dissatisfied, they feel disgruntled politically with this bunch of rioters,” Lawrence Ma, chairman of the Hong Kong Legal Exchange Foundation, told CGTN. “So as a result they want to use their vote now, today.. so that they can vote out the opposition. I think this is the current sentiment in Hong Kong.”
A bylined commentary in the state-run China Daily called for Hong Kong residents to “save your home by casting votes!” and also urged the electorate to support pro-establishment politicians.
“It is hoped that more Hong Kong residents will go to voting sites and cast their votes in favor of those who truly love Hong Kong,” ran the opinion piece.
In the latest example of state media using music to convey its message, the Global Times also posted a rap videos showing shots of Hong Kong clashes and pro-police demonstrations and urged people to: “Go tell ‘em/ people want a peaceful place.” “I can see the sad in your eyes when you blaming a rioter, you just wanna tell him your thoughts and they set you on fire” the rapper said over video footage of a man being set on fire by a masked assailant.
“I know this is a hard time, it’s a tough situation, but you already know, what’s your best decision,” the rap continued. Earlier this year a music video by a patriotic Chinese rap group shared by Chinese state media also attacked Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement as being fuelled by international forces. “Get those foreign agents outta town then we can talk about it,” riffed the English-language rap by nationalistic group CD Rev.