mandag 13. juli 2020

Trump is a bigot and a hypocrite, but he’s right to condemn China

Donald Trump taints everything he touches. If he supports a cause, he damages it. If he takes a stance, the instinct of most self-respecting liberals is to rush to the opposing side. So when Trump rails against China, a favourite bete noire, it can make a progressive pause.

That’s especially true when the US president lurches so easily into casual bigotry – referring to the coronavirus as “kung flu” – and when his hypocrisy is so rank. Thanks to his former national security adviser, John Bolton, we know that, for all his talk, Trump begged Beijing to meddle in this year’s election in his favour, breezily granting US blessing to what Amnesty International calls the “gulag” of camps in Xinjiang, in which China holds a million Uighur Muslims against their will.

And yet, just because Trump exploits China’s human rights abuses when it suits him doesn’t mean those abuses don’t exist – or that we shouldn’t be paying attention. Most western interest has been aroused by the plight of Hong Kong, on which Beijing last week imposed a new and crushing national security law, a move the Economist rightly described as “one of the biggest assaults on a liberal society since the second world war”.