Hong Kong Protesters Planning 'Massive Terror Attack' to Coincide with 9/11 Anniversary, Chinese State Media Claims

The Hong Kong edition of the China Daily—a major newspaper owned and operated by the Chinese government's propaganda department—has triggered online outrage after suggesting that anti-Beijing protesters in Hong Kong are planning a series of major terrorist attacks to coincide with the anniversary of 9/11.

The newspaper posted a message on its official Facebook page on Monday detailing what it claimed is a planned "massive terror attack" masterminded by "anti-government fanatics" that would take place on Wednesday.

The newspaper, which has previously published harsh criticisms of the protesters and warnings that Beijing would crush the movement if necessary, provided only a screenshot of an anonymous post on the encrypted messaging service Telegram as evidence of the so-called plot.

The post was accompanied by an image of the 9/11 attacks in New York, showing the explosion caused by Flight 175 crashing into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.

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"Anti-government fanatics are planning massive terror attacks, including blowing up gas pipes, in Hong Kong on September 11," the post read. "The 9/11 terror plot also encourages indiscriminate attacks on non-native speakers of Catonese, and starting mountain fires," it added.

Cantonese is a Chinese dialect that originated in the southeast of the country, and is the most common dialect in Hong Kong. When spoken, it is significantly different from the Mandarin dialect spoken by much of the rest of the country, which is China's official language.

The China Daily post said the "leaked information was part of the strategy being schemed by radical protesters in their online chat rooms."

The post was derided by social media users, who accused the newspaper of making up a fake story to malign the protesters and stoke fear among pro-Beijing readers. Many on Facebook and Telegram dismissed the apparent "evidence," noting it was only one anonymous Telegram post. Some also noted the poor quality of the image, suggesting it had been mocked up by the newspaper and did not actually exist.

Other users criticized the newspaper for insensitivity given its use of an image from the 9/11 attacks in 2001, especially so close to the anniversary of the events that killed nearly 3,000 people.

Chinese state media has been working to bolster Beijing's characterization of the Hong Kong protesters as violent rioters bent on sowing chaos in the former British territory with the support of China's Western rivals.

On Monday, an editorial published by China Daily warned protesters "to return to their senses and stop trying the patience of the central government." It also condemned the activists for "seeking U.S. help to achieve their nefarious goal of 'Hong Kong independence'."

"The demonstrations in Hong Kong are not about rights or democracy," the article continued declared. "They are a result of foreign interference. Lest the central government's restraint be misconstrued as weakness, let it be clear secessionism in any form will be crushed."

Hong Kong, China, 9/11, terrorism, China Daily
Protesters setup barricades as they prepare to clash with police in Wan Chai district on September 8, 2019 in Hong Kong, China. Anthony Kwan/Getty Images/Getty