Communist China is angry at President Trump for signing legislation in support of the Hong Kong protest movement. Oddly, one of the ways that China has decided to get even with Trump is by pulling a page out of the American left's playbook: accuse the U.S. of being racist.
According to CNBC, an official from China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs office launched a tweet thread on Thanksgiving morning attacking President Trump and America, replete with accusations of racial inequality and disparities in the U.S.
The news agency reports the tweets came from Lijian Zhao, the deputy director general at the ministry's Information Department, signifying "this is obviously an officially sanctioned move by Beijing."
China's Twitter comments 'very closely mirror' left-wing attacks
On first glance, this may seem like a pretty brilliant plan. Zhao's twitter comments very closely mirror the American left's long-running complaints about racism in this country. He was even shrewd enough to add references to mass shootings and President Trump's controversial comments against the so-called "squad" of four freshman female congresswomen who are each members of racial minority communities.
Choosing racism as the wedge issue seems wise. While it would be foolish for anyone to discount the still very strong currents of racism in American society, there is a strong debate among respected leaders of both sides of the aisle about just how severe the racial divide is.
Anyone who doubts the perception of racism in this country isn't very strong just needs to look at the still-developing Jussie Smollett case in Chicago. Even after the evidence showed that Smollett staged a purported racial attack against himself, most politicians who supported him haven't rescinded their public comments in support of Smollett that were filled with angry arguments about racism and President Trump. It's not that those politicians still believe Smollett was really attacked. It's just too hard for them to retreat from any position that decries racism in America. When you think about the racism debate in America Zhao isn't clutching at a wedge issue, he's tapping into a live wire.
Go-to tactic for communists
Novak also points out that foreign governments have sought to divide Americans in the past by resorting to accusations of racism and economic inequality. The tactic was even used by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Earlier this year, Cuban state-run media also called Trump a racist following his criticism of four freshmen congresswoman.
The tactic has a mixed and disputed record of success. When the U.S. started a massive military buildup under President Reagan in the 1980s, the USSR promoted videos of homeless people in America as a way to tap into the left's opposition to defense spending at the perceived expense of spending to help the poor. But none of that stopped the Reagan policy and that U.S. military buildup that Moscow couldn't keep up with was a key factor in ending the Cold War.
The column suggests Beijing's strategy should not be surprising since we are heading into a presidential election year and two of Trump's potential Democratic rivals (Joe Biden and Mike Bloomberg) have argued for a softer policy toward China.
"Mike Bloomberg recently said that China is not a dictatorship and its Communist Party is 'listening to the people' on matters like environmentalism," wrote Novak. "If Biden and Bloomberg want to improve their poll numbers" he argued, "complaints about the racial divide could be a winning formula."
China seems to agree.