China warns its citizens in Washington to take safety precautions against protests and virus

Keegan Elmer
·3-min read

China’s embassy in Washington has warned its citizens in the vicinity of the Capitol Hill area to take greater safety precautions, following the storming of government buildings by supporters of outgoing US president Donald Trump.

The embassy issued a short statement on Thursday morning, after mounting chaos in the US capital which followed Trump’s call to thousands of supporters at a rally near the Capitol that they should “never concede”.

Chinese citizens in the US should beware of both the demonstrations and the coronavirus, it said. “The current epidemic situation in the United States is severe. A large scale demonstration took place in Washington DC on 6 January, and the local government has announced a curfew,” the statement read.

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“The embassy reminds Chinese citizens in the United States to pay close attention to the local epidemic and security situation,” it said, and reminded citizens to pay greater attention to safety precautions, and to call the police in case of danger or an emergency.

According to US media reports, a woman was shot and killed during the storming of the Capitol building. Washington mayor Muriel Bowser imposed a curfew and said anyone on the streets after 6pm local time would be arrested.

Chinese media outlets closely followed the developing protests, with several leading commentators sounding off on the situation, as well as the state of US-China relations.

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“When I woke up, Congress had fallen and the US was in chaos!” read the headline of popular – and anonymous – foreign affairs commentator Bull Playing the Piano’s WeChat account which is run by an editor for state news agency Xinhua.

“What about law and order in the United States?” asked the accompanying article, along with pictures taken from social media outside China’s Great Firewall which showed smoke, guns and rioters in the US capital.

Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of state media tabloid Global Times, said the protests represented a deepening divide in American society. He also blasted Trump for stepping up attacks on China in the last days of his presidency.

“Following this past year’s elections and epidemic, the US has undergone an unprecedented split, and this will only continue [in the future],” Hu said in a podcast broadcast on Thursday morning. “The Trump government is using its final days to provoke China, to test our strategic resolve and intelligence.”

On Tuesday night, Trump signed an executive order banning Chinese payment apps in the US. The White House also ordered the delisting of three major Chinese companies from the New York Stock Exchange. After initially resisting the order, the Exchange said on Wednesday it would comply.

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