Washington State Senator’s Arrest in Hong Kong Tests the CCP’s Anti-American Propaganda Machine

Washington State Senator’s Arrest in Hong Kong Tests the CCP’s Anti-American Propaganda Machine - Washington state Sen. Jeff Wilson was arrested upon arrival at Hong Kong airport after mistakenly bringing a revolver in his briefcase on a trip. He voluntarily turned in his firearm to the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department upon arrival after he noticed on his flight that he accidentally placed his gun in a carry-on briefcase.

Washington State Senator’s Arrest in Hong Kong Tests the CCP’s Anti-American Propaganda Machine

Washington State Senator’s Arrest in Hong Kong Tests the CCP’s Anti-American Propaganda Machine

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Washington state Sen. Jeff Wilson was arrested upon arrival at Hong Kong airport after mistakenly bringing a revolver in his briefcase on a trip. He voluntarily turned in his firearm to the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department upon arrival after he noticed on his flight that he accidentally placed his gun in a carry-on briefcase.

After the incident, the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) mouthpieces Sing Tao Daily and Ta Kung Pao in Hong Kong twisted the story and suggested that he was “hiding” a gun. The CCP state media in China also followed suit, describing the state senator's attitude toward the press as “rude.”

On Oct. 21, 2023, Mr. Wilson, a Republican from the state of Washington, was detained by Hong Kong Customs and was charged with "possession of firearms without a license." Mr. Wilson appeared on Oct. 23 for the first time in the Shatin Magistrate's Court, and the trial judge determined that he would be arraigned on Oct. 30.

CCP’s Anti-American Propaganda Opportunity

Hong Kong's Ta Kung Pao, a newspaper backed by the CCP, reported that a gun was found in Mr. Wilson’s carry-on luggage, and according to the Firearms and Ammunition Ordinance of Hong Kong, a person shall not be in possession of any firearms or ammunition unless he holds a license. If convicted, he is liable for a fine of HK$100,000 ($12,800) and imprisonment for 14 years.

In his public statement, Mr. Wilson described how he found a revolver inside his briefcase while on a flight to Hong Kong. The revolver was legally purchased and owned in the United States, but cannot be brought to Hong Kong. He took the initiative to notify Hong Kong Customs after getting off the plane regarding his unintentional mistake.

Da Ji, a China expert, believes that Hong Kong Customs could have detained the gun and returned it to him when he left Hong Kong since the person concerned had no subjective desire to bring the gun into the country. He said, "If the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department had handled the case this way, Mr. Wilson would not have been in possession of a gun on Hong Kong soil, and this would not have constituted a crime. However, the Hong Kong government is now completely beholden to Beijing's wishes."

Three hours after Hong Kong's Ta Kung Pao published its article, China's NetEase news website followed suit, further alleging that the U.S. state lawmaker “threatened” reporters as he left the courthouse with his wife. Mr. Wilson simply asked reporters not to film him, and the Hong Kong police escorted the reporters out of the courthouse.

The article also stated that Mr. Wilson, a former businessman and Washington state senator, currently earns $56,881 a year and believes the “scandal” could have a negative impact on his reelection bid next year.

The most surprising detail is perhaps the fact that Mr. Wilson departed from Portland International Airport and had a transit stop in San Francisco before flying to Hong Kong. The firearm had been in his briefcase all along but was not noticed by security. The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is currently investigating the security breach.

Similar CCP Propaganda in the Past

This kind of anti-American propaganda has been pushed by the CCP in the past. Late at night on Aug. 31, 2019, during the anti-extradition bill movement in Hong Kong, a Caucasian male was arrested by the Hong Kong police after an argument with police officers who were blocking the Tsuen Wan MTR Station. A reporter from The Epoch Times, who happened to be at the scene, filmed the entire incident.

Soon after, rumors spread in China that the Hong Kong police had captured a “CIA officer from the United States,” and a copy of a press ID card and the name Martin Svenningsen was attached to the edited Epoch Times video, claiming to be the CIA officer's ID.

The Epoch Times later interviewed Mr. Svenningsen, who confirmed that the ID card belonged to him and that he had done frontline reporting in Hong Kong during the Hong Kong protests. However, he was a host for the Swedish Sveriges Radio and was in no way a CIA officer.

Despite the skepticism of some Chinese netizens about the "CIA credentials," the rumor circulated on nearly every social media platform in China. This was because the rumor was consistent with the official CCP propaganda that the "Hong Kong anti-China protests" were supposedly manipulated and planned by the United States.

Mr. Wilson, who works as a port commissioner in Longview, Washington, said in his statement that after visiting Hong Kong on his five-week trip to Asia with his wife, he also planned to visit Shanghai, one of the world's largest ports, and meet with local counterparts.

After the incident, Mr. Wilson said that he hopes to resume his travel plans once the criminal charges in Hong Kong are resolved.

U.S.-based China affairs commentator Shi Shan told The Epoch Times: “The fact that Beijing did not immediately lie saying that the arrested foreigner was an American agent, as it did four years ago, and that the Hong Kong courts have delayed the arraignment, is a sign that Beijing has not yet figured out how to characterize and take advantage the incident."