The brave citizen protesters of Hong Kong are crying out to President Donald Trump.
Please aid us in our struggle, Mr. President, they are saying. Help free us from communist tyranny. (They’re also reaching out to the United States in general, carrying American flags as they march.)
The last time anything like that happened was 2009 when demonstrators, while risking their lives in the streets of Tehran and other Iranian cities, turned to then-President Barack Obama for support.
“Obama, Obama,” they cried out. “Are you with us or are you with them?”
The “them” in that case were the bloodthirsty mullahs of the Islamic Republic of Iran. But Obama largely ignored the call of the Iranian freedom fighters because he was secretly negotiating a nuclear deal with their oppressors, a deal that proved to be worth less than the paper it was printed on. Indeed, it was even worse than that because it gave the Iranian government many millions with which to continue killing, as the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism and, via its client Hezbollah, addicting millions as one of the world’s biggest drug dealers.
Caving in, as Obama did, to Iran’s sadistic dictators was one of the most shameful actions in U.S. history.
Trump has been presented with a dilemma that seems similar on the surface, but is considerably more complicated.
China, for all its dictatorial policies—and they are legion and clearly not getting better—isn’t Iran, a weak country that continues to behave like a nation with a massive inferiority complex. With an ideology out of the early Middle Ages, Iran causes death and destruction to innocent people across the Middle East. They have to be dealt with as such.
China, on the other hand, is the world’s second-largest economy and is integral—at least at this point—to the financial welfare of much of the planet. Also, it has long been a nuclear power with a growing, and increasingly ominous, military presence. Much as we might like to, we can’t just ostracize or sanction it as we do Iran. To do so would be sanctioning ourselves to a great extent.
Trump, as we all know, is trying to make a trade deal with the Chinese, attempting to get Xi Jinping and company to play by the international rules, including those concerning intellectual property, something of obvious significance to authors as well as people from virtually every occupation and industry.
The importance of this deal cannot be underestimated, nor can the totalitarian behavior of the Chinese. How to balance the two?
So far, Trump has done admirably, but if the Chinese regime’s dealings with the Hong Kong protesters start to rival the horrifying violence that occurred in response to the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy demonstrations—tanks running over demonstrators, etc.—Trump will have little choice but to react accordingly.
He will have to break off negotiations and, in essence, relations with China. Xi must realize this, so, for the moment, the Chinese leader isn’t going over the edge in his actions, although he has walked right up to it. At the time of writing, the Hong Kong police are playing fast and loose with tear gas.
No one knows what’s going to happen next. Stay tuned.
Roger L. Simon, co-founder and CEO emeritus of PJ Media, is an award-winning author and an Academy Award-nominated screenwriter. His new novel, “The Goat,” is available on Amazon.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.