by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
China and Russia are using the fallout from the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer to try to diminish the appeal of democracy.
“The whole world has watched as things unravel in the U.S.,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Monday. “American politicians had better get their own house in order.”
That sneer accompanied a complaint about past U.S. condemnations of China’s crackdown on Hong Kong, as Beijing seeks to tighten control over the former British colony and trading center in violation of international agreements. Yet the comment, with its focus on how other countries view the American unrest, suggests how the U.S.-China rivalry features a renewal of the ideological competition between the United States and a communist rival.
“They obviously have very different interests, but their unifying interest is an anti-American message,” Bret Schafer, a disinformation and media expert at the Alliance for Securing Democracy, said of Russian and Chinese state-backed messaging. “They are certainly having some impact at turning audiences away, repelling them from the West.” …
… The controversy has put the Trump administration on defense even in a forum such as the OSCE, where U.S. officials are accustomed to condemning Russian human rights abuses and repression of protesters. And President Trump’s threat to deploy U.S. military forces to put down the protests if state governors struggle to do so further complicates such diplomacy.
Chinese communist officials point to the need for order and physical security to justify the use of high-tech surveillance, censorship, and other human rights abuses. The regime’s mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic exposed the weakness of such authoritarianism, according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Chinese dissidents, but the riots are a gift to Chinese propagandists struggling for influence in other countries.