Trump’s Hong Kong caution isolates him from Congress, allies, and advisers

Two senior administration officials said top foreign policy advisers to Mr. Trump have pressed him to take a more forceful public stand on Hong Kong as the pro-democracy protests have escalated, along with police violence against them. One tough internal critic of China’s government is Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, John R. Bolton, who in an interview on Wednesday with Voice of America used far stronger language than Mr. Trump has about the protests…

Mr. Trump’s language shows little connection to his administration’s stated intolerance for China’s political repression. An official national security strategy that the Trump White House released in December 2017 declared Beijing to be a strategic competitor whose political system must be confronted along with its economic and military strength. The document quotes Mr. Trump as saying that the United States will “raise our competitive game” to “protect American interests and to advance our values.”

The drama in Hong Kong is only the latest example of Mr. Trump’s disinclination to let human rights and democracy complicate his diplomacy. He has taken no position on recent mass protests in the streets of Moscow, which have constituted the most open challenge in years to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, with whom Mr. Trump has a friendly relationship. Mr. Trump also rarely criticizes the repressive practices of several other governments with which he has forged close alliances, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and Poland.

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