Iranian netizens have accused the Chinese regime of “colonization” and used the hashtag #China_get_out_of_Iran on various social media platforms to reach out to Hong Kong protesters about a recent 25-year economic and military deal reported to have been reached between Iran and China.
“Hey, Iranian here. First, I must apologize for some of the misunderstandings, the Iranian officials are going into a contract with CCP [Chinese Communist Party] that gives them military and land access for 25 years, including ports and maritime routes, they have also agreed that China may occupy some islands in the Persian Gulf,” said Iranian social media user @dearlostkarma on LIHKG, the Hong Kong version of Reddit.
“Fellow Iranians who have protested against this deal with CCP were attacked by the 五毛 [wumao, or pro-CCP trolls] and as they struggled to find CCP-related forums, they resorted to spam this message here.”
Benedict Rogers, a British human rights activist and the founder of Hong Kong Watch, told The Epoch Times that Hong Kong protesters are a source of inspiration for anyone protesting against China’s expansionist agenda.
“Hong Kong protesters have shown extraordinary resilience, courage, and commitment, a determination to never give up, even despite extraordinary odds, and this is truly inspiring,” he said.
The Plight of Iranians
The news about the Iran–China $400 billion economic and strategic deal has sparked much speculation in worldwide media after being reported by The New York Times. While the story has been denied by the Iranian foreign ministry, it didn’t stop protesters from raising their voices against the Chinese regime’s apparent plans.
“Qeshm, an Island of Iran, is going to be occupied by China. Many brave Iranians are seeking for help from international. Therefore please help them! They are also victims of CCP’s tyranny,” said Hong Kong-based netizen @camelohk50 on Twitter.
Iranian political circles speculate that transferring full control of the Iranian islands to the Chinese regime is part of the deal.
Mahmoud Ahmadi Bighash, a hardline member of the Iranian parliament (Majles), told the monopolized state-run TV’s Channel One that the transaction included “transferring full authority of Iranian islands to China” but was aborted because of opposition by the Iranian people and the Majles, reported Radio Farda, a part of the U.S. Agency for Global Media that provides uncensored news out of Iran.
Kish and Qeshm are two islands that Iranian media have reported to have been shortlisted for economic “free zones.” The Iranian regime has denied that claim.
“We have not given and will not give away even an inch of Iranian soil. We will not grant China or any other country the exclusive right to use a single meter of Iranian territory,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said. The Iranian government also dismissed Bighash’s allegation as serving vested interests.
Revelations about the possible China–Iran deal have created a discussion among netizens who are already protesting in their respective countries—the Iranians against authorities in Tehran and pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong against the Chinese regime.
The latest round of protests in Iran started on Nov. 15 last year, after a surprise increase in fuel prices, and intensified after the Iranian military mistakenly shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 on Jan. 8, which killed all 176 onboard, mostly Iranians.
The downing of the airliner occurred after a U.S. drone strike killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
LIHKG posted some screenshots of comments by Iranian protesters and captioned them as: “People from Iran are seeking help with #china_get_out_of_iran on our IG page.”
People from Iran are seeking help with #china_get_out_of_iran on our IG page.
— LIHKG 討論區 (@lihkg_forum) July 23, 2020
A netizen in Hong Kong, @freehk_noccp, shared a conversation with protesters in Iran. In response to a query about happenings in Iran, protester @h.vahideh replied: “@hkers.ms19 An island in Iran has been bought by China’s government and oil operation for 25 years. This is a kind of colonization.”
Iranian protests against the apparent deal sparked a message on Twitter by Hong Kong student activist and politician Sunny Cheung, who said that the political situation in Hong Kong proves that the Chinese Communist Party never keeps its promises.
“Iranians are calling for a halt on Iran’s economic and security deal with #China. China is cashing in on the economic distress of Iran with its debt-trap diplomacy. The experiences of HK people are proof that the #CCP never tends to honor its promises,” said Cheung, who participated in the 2014 Umbrella Revolution and the 2019–20 Hong Kong protests against the Fugitive Offenders amendment bill, which, according to protesters, is undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy and civil liberties.
1. Iranians are calling for a halt on Iran’s economic and security deal with #China. China is cashing in on the economic distress of Iran with its debt-trap dimpolmacy. The experiences of HK people is proof that the #CCP never tends to honor its promises.#china_get_out_of_iran pic.twitter.com/qw6VsYxaEi
— Sunny Cheung 張崑陽 (@SunnyCheungky) July 24, 2020
Another Hong Kong protester, Flora Chan, told the Iranian protesters that they have the support of protesters in Hong Kong.
“Thank you. We stand with you. China’s tyranny wants to take over the world. The free world should stand united and be against China. #china_Get_out_of_Iran. Don’t forget to #BoycottChineseProducts,” Chan wrote on Twitter on July 24.