PChinese-American dialogue reported by the Financial times. A spokesman for the State Department who last week in Washington denounced the restrictions on freedoms imposed on Hong Kong, an official with the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, replied in a vengeful tweet: “I can’t breathe anymore. “
In a nutshell, the reply reminded us of this truth: foreign policy is domestic policy – and vice versa. A country’s ability to defend its interests and promote its values abroad also depends on its internal situation.
Images of the white policeman crushing the neck of a black man, handcuffed and thrown to the ground in Minneapolis, Minnesota, had traveled the world. The last sentence spoken by George Floyd – “I can’t breathe anymore” – before succumbing to pressure from the police had become the universal symbol of the persistence of racism in American society. The Chinese official had a fair game of saying to his colleague from the State Department: you have no moral lesson to teach us.
The Minneapolis image trumps all other reality. She cheerfully erases the fact that the police officer will be tried for murder. It says nothing about the independence of the judiciary (even if it is permeable to money), the freedom of the press or the right to demonstrate in the United States – everything that does not exist in China.
But this is how the image commands. It will weigh on the ability of the United States to embody democracy and denounce, among others, autocracy. It will become one of the elements of the battle between Beijing and Washington to dominate the century. American foreign policy goes through Minneapolis. And, by disassociating himself from the great wave of anti-racism protests that followed the death of George Floyd, Donald Trump has further degraded the image of his country – much to Beijing’s delight.
White soldiers against black children
In his time, another Republican president, Dwight Eisenhower, reacted differently. It was in 1957, at a key moment in the struggle of black Americans for civic equality, reports historian Mary L. Dudziak in the New York Times. Again, the episode was not without consequences for American foreign policy, which was busy during the Cold War between the United States and the USSR.
Governor of Arkansas, one of the country’s southern states, Democrat Orval Faubus refused to implement a Supreme Court ruling banning school segregation. Faubus had mobilized the local national guard to prevent nine black schoolchildren from re-entering public high school in the state’s capital, Little Rock. Strong image: white soldiers in arms against black children with their school bags.
You have 51.56% of this article to read. The suite is reserved for subscribers.