By James Moules
DONALD Trump’s claims to stand up for human rights in China were nothing more than “hypocritical posturing,” Hong Kong democracy activists have said.
In 2016, Trump ran for office promising to take a hardline stance towards China. Since assuming office, he has sparked a trade war with the PRC (People’s Republic of China) and insisted on referring to Covid-19 as the “China virus” – a remark that has been condemned as racist.
He has also sought to present himself as a champion of liberty for the people of China with measures such as Human Rights and Democracy Act in support of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.
But the Labour movement solidarity with Hong Kong (UK) says that Trump has done little to help the struggle in the Special Administrative Region.
Pete Radcliff, the movement’s convenor, told Redaction Politics: “Trump’s hypocritical posturing has not helped the Hong Kong struggle at all – in fact the opposite.
“Not surprisingly some in Hong Kong, desperate for support, may have welcomed statements from him as well as his equally hypocritical Foreign Secretary Pompeo. But these are politicians with a shameful record on human rights in the US and much of the world.”
Yet a YouGov poll shortly before the 2020 US presidential election found that more than a third (36 per cent) of Hong Kongers polled favoured a Trump victory compared to 42 per cent for Biden.
This margin of support for Trump is considerably higher than most of the other Asian nations polled – with only Taiwan reporting a higher percentage (42 per cent) of preference for Trump. Only 30 per cent of the Taiwanese surveyed backed Biden.
Mass protests were triggered in Hong Kong in 2019 by the proposed introduction of a bill that would allow extradition to mainland China.
Even though the bill has been withdrawn, pro-democracy demonstrations continue, and in 2020 a controversial security bill was introduced that gave Beijing increased powers to punish protesters in Hong Kong.
Mr Radcliff added: “We know that Trump has no concern for freedom in Hong Kong or anywhere else. He had often expressed his admiration for Xi Jinping and would gladly have done business with him and accepted the repression. He was merely using the China issue for populist propaganda.
“His warlike posturing is often expressed in a racist manner to Chinese people. This strengthens Xi Jinping’s tyranny by allowing him to call for ‘national unity’ against those who threaten China.”
He also called for incoming President Joe Biden to stand up for human rights in China by demanding that corporations commit to not using forced Uyghur labour.
Pete also suggested: “He could demand that US companies operating in Hong Kong facilitate workers organising in their workplaces to discuss politics freely outside of police surveillance etc.
“And of course what we demand of the US government, we should demand of all governments.
“But we have to recognise that anything that is done by Biden or any other leader, will only come through campaigning pressure from below and in alliance with our Hong Kong and Chinese oppositionist allies.”
He added: “We were pleased to write a statement with the Uyghur Solidarity Campaign that was signed by many left wing organisations and individuals across the world with the title “Against Beijing and Washington for international Workers Solidarity”.”
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