Chinese tourist defaces European shrine over Hong Kong protest messagePosted by Robert Leonard / January 1, 2020
A recently released video shows what appears to be a mainland Chinese tourist defacing a shrine in Lithuania by removing a cross with a pro-Hong Kong message written on it. In the background, the tourist’s friend says, “We have done a good thing today. Our motherland is great.”
The pilgrimage site is home to over 100,000 crosses, which pilgrims have been placing there since the 1830s.
This event reminds us that at least some Chinese citizens support Beijing’s authoritarian moves. Recall that Beijing purged Robinson Crusoe of all references to Christianity––it gave other kids’ books the same treatment. Xi Jinping is also demanding a rewrite of the Quran to align with communist values.
But Christianity is not Beijing’s only target. Beijing has destroyed large parts of Yarchen Gar, one of the largest sites of Tibetan Buddhism, which is so distinctly Tibetan that China finds it offensive. Satellite imagery revealed that the government razed the site, dislocating monks and nuns.
These moves may seem entirely top-down, but videos like this remind us that Beijing’s attempts to tighten its grip over non-majority, non-mainland China is the work of empire, and the citizens represented by empire are often quite content to allow brutal policies against anyone but them.