“Trump’s timidity” is not a likely headline to describe the 45th president, but it applies, unfortunately, to his failure to embrace the freedom demonstrators in Hong Kong as they link arms and defy troops across the border as they sing the “Star-Spangled Banner.”
Compare Trump’s failure to speak up on behalf of the freedom demonstrators with President Ronald Reagan’s boldly outspoken criticism of the Soviet Union when it suppressed dissidents like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and called the USSR “the evil empire.”
Even President George H.W. Bush condemned China for its slaughter of dissidents at Tiananmen Square.
But, from President Trump, we get only silence.
Granted, he is in the middle of delicate trade talks with Beijing and the harshest of trade sanctions are firing back and forth between the U.S. and China.
But here is a chance to elevate the dispute with China to a moral plane, high above the commercial issues now in play.
Reagan made opposition to Soviet authoritarianism into a global crusade, recruiting people from all over the world to his side in the struggle for democracy.
And, when the key denouement came over the pro-democracy offensive of the Solidarity labor union in Poland, the world lined up behind Solidarity and the United States.
Trump’s battle with China is ultimately that of freedom vs. tyranny.
Beyond the issues of currency manipulation and trade imbalance lies the desire of China to make regime espionage against its own citizens and those of other countries a built-in feature of the coming 5G network.
Its promotion of Huawei is designed to lay the basis for allowing its spies to overhear everything we say and all that we do.
Enemies of China can be punished even if they never set foot in the country, their offenses monitored through Huawei’s equipment on their home laptops and computers.
Trump needs to elevate the dialogue and underscore how his efforts to check Huawei are part of a global struggle against big brother totalitarianism.
By joining forces with the brave young people in Hong Kong, he can transform a nasty commercial dispute into a historic battle for freedom.
Don’t miss this chance, Mr. President.
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