What Kinda Stunt Are You China Pull?
The headline of this article is illegal in China as the Chinese government banned wordplay in 2014.
Sadly, China has been on a downhill trip on the Authoritarian Express Railway since then: twice-daily trips to your local re-education camp sponsored by Huawei!
The Chinese government recently announced it would also take “strong countermeasures” if Trump signs a bill supporting Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters and has issued threats against European citizens protesting for Uighur rights.
Make no mistake, the thought of several Chinamen hiding in the nearest bush to intercept any sympathies for the victims of ethnic cleansing is laughable. But plenty of Western businesses have already caved to Chinese demands.
Yesterday, Dior joined Dolce & Gabbana, the NBA and Givenchy by apologising profusely for displaying a map of China that didn’t include Taiwan. Supporting the surrounded rebel province simply wasn’t worth a few hundred hand-stitched leather trousers.
Of course, Europe and America’s moral compass doesn’t lie in the hands of an Italian fashion house, but who’s to say politicians won’t bow to the same economic pressures?
Trump has previously praised President Xi Jinping and the Chinese leader’s seizure of dictatorial power as well as Xi’s response to the Hong Kong protests. Also, Erdogan wouldn’t dare throw away a letter written by Xi, so there’s lots of note-taking to be done by the US President.
Trump says Xi and him have an “excellent relationship,” although no word yet on whether it will blossom into “love” like his relationship with Kim Jong Un. But given the strong effort by Xi to ‘out-North Korea’ his obese neighbour, he stands a good chance.
This ongoing contest for the world’s most cruel leader is worrying and China’s unlikely to kick its habit of shipping ethnic and religious minorities to torture camps and neither will it leave Hong Kong be.
A zero-sum geopolitical world also means it’s unlikely that human rights will prevail through the resurgence of authoritarianism. What comes next is anybody’s guess, but it probably will not involve sunshine or rainbows (especially since China has cracked down on rainbows and LGBT-themed items, removing rainbow products from online retailers).