The mass protests raging across the United States over the police killing of yet another African-American man have had the salutary effect of exposing Washington’s rank hypocrisy in international relations.
In particular, before the gruesome death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers on May 25, President Donald Trump and Congressional lawmakers were building a provocative campaign of vilification against China. That campaign was related to groundless claims that Beijing had engaged in an alleged cover-up of the coronavirus pandemic.
U.S. efforts to undermine China were given added impetus after Beijing announced plans last month to apply a new security law in the semi-autonomous city state of Hong Kong.
Beijing says the new security law is aimed at quelling long-running protests in Hong Kong against China’s sovereignty over the former British colonial territory. Those protests have been tolerated by the Chinese authorities for over a year despite the loss of lives and rampant damage to public property. It is also suspected that Washington and London have exploited the disturbances by giving encouragement to the protesters. Britain’s premier Boris Johnson’s offer this week of issuing British passports to three million Hong Kongers is a glaring example of interference in China’s internal affairs.
The Trump administration and bipartisan voices in Congress have been ramping up threats to impose economic sanctions on Beijing over alleged human rights violations in Hong Kong.
How quickly unforeseen events can alter the political landscape.
This week, the world was shocked by the scale of military-police powers deployed against peaceful protesters in the U.S. For the second week running, millions of citizens have come out in demonstrations against police brutality and systematic racism. Some 400 cities across 50 states have seen multi-racial protests demanding justice over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25. Floyd’s callous death was but the latest in a long list of police homicides against African-Americans.
Some of the protests have turned violent, partly as a result of wanton police aggression backed up by heavily armed National Guard troops. There is also a big factor of general frustration among the populace and opposition to the massive social inequality under American oligarchic capitalism. The racist, brutish police are seen as the enforcers of a corrupt plutocracy.
Night-time curfews have been imposed in cities across the U.S. And when protesters refused to comply with curfew outside the White House in Washington DC on Monday, they were teargassed off the streets. Trump emerged from a secure bunker to mount a photo-op in which he posed to have the authority of the bible. (You could hardly make this absurdity up.)
Trump’s threat of sending in combat troops to break up civil protests has been slammed by critics at home and around the world as an unlawful breach of the U.S. Constitution. Trump’s move smacks of an emerging military dictatorship in supposedly the world’s self-proclaimed beacon of democracy. Even former Pentagon chiefs have come forward to condemn the heavy-handedness, no doubt betraying apprehension over the speed of America’s descent into authoritarianism, amid fears among the political class that the situation is stoking a general revolt against the federal government.
What is rather amusing, however, is how various U.S. media outlets, including the New York Times and National Public Radio, have reported on Beijing “seizing the moment” of U.S. disturbances and riots to portray the turmoil as “another sign of American hypocrisy and decline”. That is a reference to how the events in the U.S. have featured prominently in Chinese media. But not just in China. Many other media around the world have also been following the mayhem and unrest in the U.S. The implication of China cynically exploiting U.S. riots for propaganda purpose is therefore entirely misplaced.
The plain truth is that the world has been shocked by the heinous action of U.S. police officers against an unarmed man; by the relentless repetition of such barbarity against African-Americans in a country which evidently has an endemic racial problem; and the world has been aghast by the gratuitous wielding of military powers to crush subsequent peaceful protests.
It is not “propaganda” to point out that in addition to the above malignancy, Washington has a chronic problem of hypocrisy as shown by its arrogant attempts to lecture China over Hong Kong. (And not just China, but every other nation on the planet.)
As the old saying goes, America should put its own house in order before presuming to have the sanctimonious right to admonish others.
American hypocrisy is as old as the state itself, built as it is on the genocides of native people and African slavery. But what is new, and this is a welcome development, is how Washington’s presumed moral superiority is increasingly seen around the world to be a figment of its own self-regarding imagination. That dawning realization scuppers American moralizing and interference in other nations.