Yonden Lhatoo
SCMP Columnist
Just Saying
by Yonden Lhatoo
Just Saying
by Yonden Lhatoo

While America burns, Donald Trump is busy ‘fixing’ Hong Kong’s problems

  • Yonden Lhatoo compares the outbreak of social unrest across the US with Hong Kong’s protests to highlight the sheer hypocrisy of Washington’s cynical anti-China campaign
Here’s a little reality check for America’s many useful idiots in Hong Kong: your great white hope for saving you from China’s clutches, US President Donald Trump, just gave everyone an unpleasant taste of what he really feels about the kind of dissent that has been on display on the streets of this city since last year.
Trump’s first response to violent public protests triggered by the death of an unarmed black man in the custody of Minneapolis police, apparently at the hands of a white officer, was to call them “THUGS” (in capital letters, no less) and threaten to send in the military with guns blazing.

“When the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!” he tweeted cheerfully.

Protesters set fire to a police station in Minneapolis. Photo: Reuters

So when Americans take to the streets in an eruption of rage against systemic racism that has afflicted their country since its founding, they are “rioters” who deserve to be shot dead? But when radicals in Hong Kong go on the rampage, hurling petrol bombs, destroying public property and lynching anyone who objects to their excesses in the name of democracy, they are mighty champions of freedom? The cognitive dissonance makes one’s head spin.


Donald Trump announces US will revoke Hong Kong’s special status

Donald Trump announces US will revoke Hong Kong’s special status
America is burning, as protesters clash with police across the country, and what is Trump busy doing? Priorities, priorities – castigating Beijing for trying to end extreme social unrest in Hong Kong through a new national security law for the city. While he gets to use his own country’s national security laws on the US population any time he likes.
Donald Trump’s first response was to call protesters thugs. Photo: Bloomberg

Never mind the carnage and chaos in his own backyard, it’s all about fixing China using its weakest link, Hong Kong, as a sad little pawn in the greater geopolitical struggle between the two powers.

Following the official assertion by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – now there’s a real “thug” if you ever saw one – that Hong Kong no longer enjoys the degree of autonomy promised by Beijing, Trump has announced that his administration will begin stripping the city of its special status under which Washington treats it as a separate trading and customs entity from the rest of China.
Mike Pompeo says Hong Kong no longer enjoys the degree of autonomy promised by Beijing. Photo: Reuters
While the measure will mostly hurt Hong Kong, not Beijing, and America’s myriad business interests in the city also stand to suffer, Trump has remained tellingly vague on details, and hinted at possible “exceptions”, setting aside wiggle room to avoid collateral damage and a counterproductive fallout.

Is Hong Kong American or Chinese territory? Beijing’s new national security law seeks to set that straight

In other words, it’s mostly bluff and bluster, distraction and deception, the hallmarks of the Trump administration. Any fool – unless you’re one of those brainwashed boneheads waving the star-spangled banner on Hong Kong streets – can see he’s made a tough statement but there’s no actual substance or follow-through strategy behind it.

A protester in Minneapolis carries a US flag upside down – a sign of distress. Photo: AP

The story of Washington’s concern for human rights in Hong Kong, to borrow an old line from Shakespeare, “is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”.

After George Floyd died while being arrested for allegedly using a fake note at a convenience store, an enraged mob set the local police station on fire, something pretty much unheard of in the US. Unlike in Hong Kong, where our “revolutionaries” have been known to firebomb more than 20 police stations in a single day.

Donald Trump has remained vague on the details of the actions he plans to take. Photo: Reuters

If American demonstrators want to take a page from Hong Kong protesters’ playbook to frustrate their government, they could try the famous “five demands” – with US characteristics, of course:

1. End racism, especially against African Americans.

2. Stop characterising protesters as “rioters”.

3. Amnesty for all arrested protesters.

4. An independent inquiry into police brutality.

5. President Trump step down immediately.

What nonsense, you say? What government would agree to such demands? I rest my case.

Yonden Lhatoo is the chief news editor at the Post

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Fix your own problems first, America, never mind ours