What a White House reporter’s demotion tells us about the Trump years

(Originally published here by the South China Morning Post on January 18, 2021.) Picking quarrels and provoking trouble”, the catch-all charge often invoked by the authorities in Beijing to stifle dissent, was used against citizen journalist Zhang Zhan last month, sending her to prison for four years for her reporting on the coronavirus pandemic. The move prompted [...]

Pompeo and the “Hong Kong 12”

(Originally published here on January 5, 2021 in the South China Morning Post.) The sparkling wine was just starting to chill on New Year’s Eve when we received 2020’s final jab against China by the Trump administration. With extreme diplomatic eloquence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo assailed Chinese authorities for the way they doled out justice to the “Hong [...]

For Ted Cruz, Hong Kong democracy protesters have only ever been a stage prop

(Originally published here on December 21, 2020 by the South China Morning Post.) US Senator Ted Cruz’s heart has bled so profusely for those suffering under the wrath of a Hong Kong government unable and unwilling to address demands for democratic reform that most of us eventually had to tune out the drama like it [...]

Watching the high wire act that threatens to bring down the tent we’re all in

(Originally published here on December 8, 2020 in the South China Morning Post.) As the United States endures death on the scale of a 9/11 attack every two to three days, President Donald Trump is taking heavy flak for focusing on what amounts to his 2024 presidential election campaign. Who can blame him? Why dwell on something [...]

Donald Trump is accidentally right in saying the US shouldn’t fear Covid-19

(Originally published here by South China Morning Post on October 13, 2020) Donald Trump had a point about Covid-19 when he told Americans not to fear the disease, a remark that sparked an immediate backlash and accelerated the rapid worsening of his re-election odds. Although there’s no scientific evidence that the pathogen itself is mutating into [...]

If economic gains are reason enough for Americans to look past the Trump administration’s flaws, why would this not be the case for Chinese?

(Originally published here on September 15, 2020 in South China Morning Post.) Don’t expect Beijing to roll over when it is collared with the same leash it puts on diplomats posted to China. Conflating one-upmanship and reciprocity as readily as US President Donald Trump portrays America’s Covid-19 disaster as a public health policy success, Chinese Foreign Ministry [...]

Why China should try to keep Donald Trump happy

(Originally published here on September 1, 2020 in South China Morning Post.) When US President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, discussed China with the Atlantic Council’s Paula Dobriansky last week, he let slip something unusual for an administration that otherwise projects nothing but confidence about its chances for a second term. “Whether [Trump] has a [...]

US curbs on China’s Confucius Institutes are welcome, but they’re not the real target

(Originally published here on August 18) Washington has finally cornered China with its move against Confucius Institutes in the US (CIUS) last week. United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s order that the US headquarters of Chinese government-funded Confucius Institutes must register as a foreign mission makes sense, but the distorted narrative that is being spun around [...]