Trump’s Contradiction on Hong Kong

15/08/2019

By now, everyone has probably heard that Trump has called Chinese President, Xi Jinping, a great leader with his peoples’ respect; odd praise for a dictator… wait. I digress – the point is, like with North Korea, Trump’s shows of comradery with one of the US’ biggest global rivals is just that, a show. Everything else points to escalating tensions.

“Personal meeting?”, Trump says. I’m sure there would be much to talk about, starting with the fact that Trump seemingly believes Jinping will ‘humanely’ handle the protests in Hong Kong (all those humane tanks will do the trick) despite US policy elsewhere being an obvious counter to Chinese policy. For weeks now, Hong Kong has been protesting against their government and Beijing’s attempt to stifle their freedoms, starting with the extradition bill and now the brutal police treatment and potential military response.

Trump apparently believes that Beijing will ‘humanely’ deal with this situation, but while that seems to be grabbing headlines, reality has a different story. National Security Advisor and longstanding Republican war hawk, John Bolton, warned China against a repeat of Tiananmen Square, which saw the military massacre peaceful protesters in 1989 and subsequent mass censorship of the event.

The other policy contrast – other than the trade war, obviously, which is going so well for American citizens, I’m sure – that puts Trump’s comments out of place is the US’ stance on Taiwan. A day before Trump’s tweets about Hong Kong, the American Institute in Taiwan proudly announced their continued support for Taiwan against Chinese coercion. Billions of dollars’ worth of military sales have been made between the US and Taiwan since 2008, and the two nations have frequently spoken about their close ties and ‘shared values’, including democracy.

As usual, when the US talks about ‘democracy’ in a global context, there is always some hidden (or not-so-hidden) geopolitical goal behind it; in the case of Taiwan, it gives them an another ally in the region to fend off Chinese influence. I’ve had Americans berate me for daring to suggest the US’ role as a ‘global police force’ is a sham, that their government is doing exactly what they (rightfully) criticise countries like China and Russia for doing. Wonder how long it’ll take some of them to realise that window is in fact a mirror.

So, despite all of the headlines and tweets that seem to put Trump and Jinping on friendly terms, it’s important to dig a bit deeper and realise the hypocrisies and contradictions that are evident. Why does Trump think Jinping is a great guy? Who knows – it’s probably just some stunt to make his base think he’s a diplomatic mastermind while they simply do not listen to a single different voice from the White House.

Trade war (that has more negative effects for US citizens than China), aggressive support of Taiwan’s independence, but Hong Kong, Jinping is the saviour we all need. According to Trump.

Previous piece: Banerji and the Threat to Free Speech

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