Even so, inspired by what they view as an unprecedented escalation in U.S. governmental action against Beijing on numerous fronts — from the trade war to the targeting of telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies — campaigners like Xia have pinned their hopes of Chinese political reform on President Trump, a leader who calls Chinese President Xi Jinping a friend and a “special person”, and who has fawned over the country’s harsh imposition of the death penalty.

Batting away Trump’s flattery of Xi as a residual “bad habit” from his days as a businessman, Xia said the administration’s actions on trade and the Huawei case amounted to “a direct attack [on] the vulnerability of the Chinese regime”.

Like a number of other human rights activists who spoke to the South China Morning Post, the 58-year-old’s support for Trump is also fuelled by his hatred of socialism and communism, ideologies that Trump has spoken out against forcefully on numerous occasions.