China slams racist US but finds itself with more adversaries

China is using domestic problems in the United States to show the Trump administration in a bad light and depict its strategic adversary as unfair and racist. Meanwhile, tensions are running high as a US warship sails the Taiwan Strait and China carries out military exercises in the same area. A group of 18 Western lawmakers want stronger actions against Beijing as Southeast Asian countries distance themselves from China.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – China has gone on the counterattack and is exploiting anti-racism protests in the United States to criticise the Trump administration. However, its attempt to take advantage of the internal problems of the United States and appear as a responsible global power does not seem to be reaping expected benefits.

Washington has taken the lead in an international front against China’s repression of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement; at the same time, more and more countries in Asia are beginning to challenge Chinese hegemonic pretentions.

For Chinese leaders, the US government applies a double standard over the riots that broke out following the death of  George Floyd, an African-American man killed in Minneapolis.

Chinese diplomats, media and Internet users accuse Trump of criticising Hong Kong police for cracking down on what they consider illegal protests whilst allowing police brutality against demonstrations that are currently shaking the United States.

In doing so, China is trying to get even with the United States by depicting its strategic adversary as an unfair and racist country.

The ongoing confrontation, which began in 2016, when Trump came to power, has seen the two superpowers angrily face off each other.

From trade to technology, from the fight against the coronavirus to territorial disputes in the South China Sea and the status of Taiwan, Washington and Beijing are at loggerheads with tensions running high.

Yesterday, for the seventh time since the start of the year, a US warship sailed through the Taiwan Strait. The transit by the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Russell took place on the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, when thousands of Chinese students were killed for demanding democracy and freedom in China.

For its part, China is currently conducting exercises in the area, with amphibious landing operations in a rehearsal of a possible invasion of Taiwan.

In condemning China’s national security law in Hong Kong, the US has garnered support from Great Britain, Canada, Australia and Taiwan.

The European Union has also criticised China’s new legislation, but has distanced itself from Trump's decision to put economic and financial pressure on China.

Meanwhile, to curb China's geopolitical aims, about 18 Western lawmakers have set up a transnational group from the United States, Europe, Australia, Canada and Japan to plan actions against Beijing’s growing strength.

In Asia itself, some countries are also increasingly concerned about China’s activism. In an op-ed in Foreign Affairs, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong notes that the US presence in the Asia-Pacific region is vital, and that China will not be able to weaken the US in Southeast Asia.

In doing so, Lee is following in the footsteps of his predecessor and father, the late Lee Kwan Yew, prime minister and founder of the city-state, who insisted that China's power must be counterbalanced and that only the US could do so.

In another reversal for China, the Philippines on Wednesday scrapped its earlier decision to end a 20-year military deal with the United States. Together with Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan, the Philippines is opposed to China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Indonesia, which has tried to steer clear of any row with China in regional disputes, has also taken a stand against Beijing. In an official note sent to the United Nations in late May, Jakarta takes the view that China’s Nine-Dash line, that is its historic demarcation in the sea, has no legal basis and violates the UN Convention on the law of the sea.