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The state of US politics today should warm Beijing’s heart - South China Morning Post

Author: South China Morning Post

Source: https://www.scmp.com/comment/opinion/article/3239641/state-us-politics-today-should-warm-chinese-hearts

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Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi could not have had a bettervisit to the US last week, as he was able to witness American carnage – political and literal – up close.Not only did he keep the confirmation of aJoe Biden-Xi Jinping summit at Apec in his back pocket, meaning possibly more assurances that Xi will get the kind of treatment that will play well back home, he also got to see real-time coverage of amass murder in Maine, and thedust settling on an unprecedented power vacuum on Capitol Hill, as the Republican Party fully embraces the kind of “might makes right” governance that Beijing understands.Former president Donald Trump may be losing badly in themany legal battles he’s fighting in various courts around the country, withsome of hisclosest alliesnow working for the prosecution, but let’s acknowledge the victory that he’s managed to pull off politically.The bruising House speakership battle appeared at times to signal that the former president had lost control of the Republicans, particularly when a band of party moderates locked arms toblock Ohio Representative Jim Jordan – one of Trump’s most ardent supporters – from getting the gavel.The centre didn’t hold, however.Those opposed to Jordan voted in another Trump-approved election denier, RepresentativeMike Johnson.If you believe in the post-war rules-based global order led by Washington, take a moment here to mourn the last stand of the Reaganite Republicans, who once stood firm against authoritarianism throughout the world.02:17China’s Wang Yi calls for ‘in-depth’ Sino-US dialogue ahead of Antony Blinken talks in WashingtonChina’s Wang Yi calls for ‘in-depth’ Sino-US dialogue ahead of Antony Blinken talks in WashingtonAs we scrambled for details about Johnson’s record and ideology, it became clear that the will of the American voter has mattered less to him than the fundamentalist ideology that he feels the country needs.A foot soldier in the effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election, Johnson can be expected to do everything in his power to snuff out the last vestiges of his party’s traditionalists, those who believed in big business, strong defence alliances and small government.Republican traditionalists were no advocates for the rights of women, the LGBTQ community or immigrants, but certainly less driven by opposition to these causes than they were by the determination to face down autocrats.They also restrained the party’s God squad – Johnson’s ilk – which was never entirely comfortable in a tent paid for by Wall Street.But as Johnson’s elevation proves, the Republican Party is ruled by Trump, whopraised Xi andtook Vladimir Putin’s side against his own intelligence community on the issue of Russian interference in the 2016 election.Trump promises to restore ‘travel ban’ targeting Muslim countries if re-electedDon’t let the party’s constant anti-China fury fool you; it’s more like the antagonism a prepubescent boy with a crush directs at the object of his desire.The invective against Beijing needs to be at full blast to deflect attention from the party’s ideological alignment with Beijing and Moscow, not to mention the evidence that Trump is not a paragon of Christian piety.Some of them may feign outrage at Putin, but their votes for Johnson instead of a moderate reveal that they’re more invested in illiberal causes or too power-hungry to resist.The sequence of events that led to former House speakerKevin McCarthy’s downfall and the power vacuum that threatened US support for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan would surely have delighted Wang’s ministry, which is always quick to point out to the rest of the world how dysfunctional American-style democracy is.02:01US Republican leader Kevin McCarthy loses 9th vote for House speakerUS Republican leader Kevin McCarthy loses 9th vote for House speakerThe only part of the Republican Party that might appear in contrast to the Chinese Communist Party is the new speaker’s devotion to Christian nationalism.But the differences are only skin-deep. Insistence on fundamentalist religious doctrine at the expense of public opinion and individual freedom puts the kind of governance Johnson wants closer to the regimes Xi and Putin have shaped.On the Israel-Hamas war, are Republicans ready to stand with China?The American emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion was almost strong enough to withstand the Trump presidency, but women’s rights took a significant hit with theoverturning of Roe vs Wade.That would not have happened without the former president’s appointment of three conservative Supreme Court justices, another reason why right-wing Republicans stand behind a man so obviously lacking faith in anything other than himself.With Johnson holding the gavel in the House, the other ideals that Washington uses to differentiate itself from Beijing will come under heavier attack.The precarious state of play in American politics should make us wonder why Wang would even hesitate to confirm his leader’s meeting with Biden.Robert Delaney is the Post’s North America bureau chief

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