The Trump administration has cracked down on widespread demonstrations over the death of George Floyd, and America’s chief geopolitical rivals—including China, Russia and Iran—have condemned the United States for its hypocrisy.
Chinese media mocked the U.S. over its handling of the protests, using political cartoons and tweets to accuse Washington of hypocrisy for criticizing China in the past over its crackdown on protesters in Tiananmen Square 31 years ago, and more recently, in Hong Kong.
“The timing couldn’t have been better for China,” since it faces its own protests in Hong Kong, Rodger Baker, senior vice president of strategic analysis at Stratfor, tells Forbes; it allows the Chinese government to “send a message to its people: ‘at least we’re putting things in order in Hong Kong, so how can the U.S. yell at us?’”
Russia’s foreign ministry on Thursday condemned Washington for hypocrisy and not protecting the rights of its own citizens—while routinely criticizing Russia for just that.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova even mocked the White House by suggesting it release a statement of condemnation of itself; Zakharova also said that based on its handling of the George Floyd protests, the U.S. “simply cannot have any questions for others in the coming years.”
Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, on Twitter similarly condemned the “scenes of brutality against protesters & press” taking place in U.S. cities and accused Europe of being “quick to judge” about non-Western societies and mocked them for staying “deafeningly silent.”
The foreign minister accompanied his post with an old statement from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, criticizing Iran’s handling of protests in 2018, but annotated it as if it were Iran condemning the U.S. for “suppressing” protesters.
“The more they can point out hypocrisy, the more influence China is ultimately able to exert in reshaping international norms,” says Baker. As an expansionist power which has continued to grow its economic, political and security capabilities in recent decades, China is hoping to change the structure of the international order “by highlighting that the West isn’t as perfect as it’s made out to be,” he says.
As for Russia, its tactics can be traced back to the Cold War, Baker says: The Soviet Union was “constantly emphasizing anomalies in U.S. history and pointing out that they have no moral standing to tell the rest of the world what to do.” Russian authorities are “enjoying” the unrest in the United States because it gives them the opportunity to get their own propaganda messages across, Ivan Kurilla, an expert on Russian-American relations at the European University in St. Petersburg, similarly told The New York Times. The turmoil in the U.S. helps Russia deflect American criticism of its human rights record and its own security services, which have often used force to break up protests—as they did in Moscow last summer, for instance.
Instead of calling for national unity amid mass protests, President Donald Trump has called for a strong military response and threatened to deploy active-duty troops, even as police in some cases use force to clear out peaceful protesters. Not only has that drawn criticism from current and former government officials, but also from geopolitical rivals like Russia, China and Iran for what they see as hypocrisy. The U.S. has in the past condemned all three countries for using heavy-handed tactics to clamp down on pro-democracy protesters.
Trump’s administration drew strong criticism after federal police cleared out peaceful protestors from Lafayette Square on Tuesday so that President Trump could wordlessly pose for a photo op, brandishing a Bible in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church near the White House., for a photo op. The president earlier this week also threatened to invoke the centuries-old Insurrection Act, last used to suppress the 1992 Los Angeles riots, to deploy active-duty troops to quell the unrest across the nation; he has branded protesters as “thugs” and domestic “terrorists.”
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