26 September 2023

Misleading: Anti-Chinese government banner was hung in Los Angeles, not in Guangzhou

Self-proclaimed advocate for the independence of China’s Guangdong province staged a protest in the U.S., emulating an anti-Xi Jinping banner seen in Beijing a few days earlier.

On Oct. 18, a tweet claimed a protest banner against the Chinese government was seen in Guangzhou, the capital city of Guangdong province in southern China.

It reads, when translated to English, “No to nucleic acid tests; yes to the rule of law; No to lockdowns, yes to freedom; No to Mandarin, yes to mother tongue [Cantonese implied]; No to enslavement, yes to independence; No to China, yes to dissolution; No to Guangdong province, yes to the nation of Cantonia.”

The post has been retweeted over 1,900 times at the time of writing. The image was also shared by other Twiiter users (for example, here and here).

A self-proclaimed news channel on YouTube with 691,000 followers also used this picture in a video, claiming that it was taken in Guangzhou.

The YouTube video has more than 250,000 views and 7,000 likes as of this writing.

However, this claim is misleading. The banner was put up in Los Angeles, not in Guangzhou.

Through an image search, Annie Lab found a Reddit post with the same picture. In the comment section, a user said this banner was made by the Cantonia Independence Party, which describes itself as “a democratic party promoting the independence of the nation of Cantonia from China’s occupation” in its Twitter profile.

The group’s tweet on Oct. 17 said their members hung up the banner in response to the protest banner at Sitong bridge in Beijing.

Annie Lab reached out to the group and one of the members, who declined to be named for safety reasons, confirmed on Oct. 19 that they put up the banner in Los Angeles.

They also sent us a previously unseen photo of the banner taken from a different angle.

Original photos sent by the Cantonese Independence Party.

We geolocated the photos with Google Street View and know the location was 101 E Temple St. in Los Angeles, California. The white building seen in this picture is the Los Angeles City Hall.

In the past, the group also tweeted about other protests they staged in this area.

Previous protests held by the party near the Los Angeles City Hall.

The banner in question was hung days before the 20th Communist Party Congress. President Xi Jinping secured a historic third term.

This claim has also been fact-checked by other organizations such as AFP and Taiwan’s MyGoPen.