China, Russia and Trump – The New York Times


America’s biggest adversaries evidently want Donald Trump to win the 2024 presidential election.

Vladimir Putin’s preference for Trump has long been clear. And now China’s government is taking steps to help Trump’s presidential campaign.

As my colleagues Tiffany Hsu and Steven Lee Myers report:

Covert Chinese accounts are masquerading online as American supporters of former President Donald J. Trump, promoting conspiracy theories, stoking domestic divisions and attacking President Biden ahead of the election in November, according to researchers and government officials.

The accounts signal a potential tactical shift in how Beijing aims to influence American politics, with more of a willingness to target specific candidates and parties, including Mr. Biden ….

Some of the Chinese accounts impersonate fervent Trump fans, including one on X that purported to be “a father, husband and son” who was “MAGA all the way!!” The accounts mocked Mr. Biden’s age and shared fake images of him in a prison jumpsuit, or claimed that Mr. Biden was a Satanist pedophile while promoting Mr. Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.

This effort has been modest so far, and it remains unclear whether it will grow — or whether Beijing-linked accounts will later try to balance their approach with anti-Trump posts. For now, though, at least parts of the Chinese government appear to have picked a side in the 2024 election. In today’s newsletter, I’ll explain what China and Russia hope to gain from a second Trump term.

Putin’s reasons to prefer Trump seem obvious (even if Putin claims otherwise). Biden leads an international coalition opposing Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, and U.S. support has enabled Ukraine’s much smaller military to stall Russia’s advance. Trump has suggested that he will end this support. A central part of Putin’s war strategy, intelligence experts believe, is to wait for Ukraine’s Western allies to tire of the war.

China’s reasons to prefer Trump are less obvious. Trump, after all, took a more combative stance toward China than any U.S. president since Richard Nixon re-established ties with Beijing. The Associated Press and Washington Post have noted that Beijing seems unhappy with both Biden and Trump.

But there appear to be at least two major ways in which China’s leaders could benefit from a second Trump term.

The first involves America’s engagement with global politics. Biden believes that the world is in the midst of a struggle between autocracy and democracy, and he sees the U.S. as the leading democracy, much as past presidents from both parties did. In Biden’s view, the U.S. is “the indispensable nation” that must defend a democracy when an autocratic neighbor attacks, as Russia did in Ukraine and China may eventually do in Taiwan.

Putin and Xi take a less idealistic view toward global affairs. They instead believe that strong nations should be able to control their own regions. Under Xi, China has become more aggressive not only toward Taiwan but also toward other neighbors. China has also expanded its influence in Africa and Latin America, effectively challenging the U.S.’s status as the world’s lone superpower.

Trump has shown little interest in these issues. He is an isolationist who embraces the slogan “America First.” He prefers that the U.S. avoid international conflicts, and he is skeptical of treaties and alliances. He said at a recent campaign rally that Russia’s leaders should be able “to do whatever the hell they want” to some European countries.

For Moscow and Beijing, the benefits of an American president who holds these beliefs are large.

The second major advantage of a new Trump term for China and Russia is the domestic chaos that could result in the U.S.

Trump governed as no previous American president did. His White House was often disorganized, and his positions could change quickly. A recent example involves China. As president, Trump favored forcing ByteDance, a Chinese company, to sell TikTok, and many congressional Republicans (as well as Democrats) continue to hold this view. But Trump recently reversed his position. One possible explanation is that a Republican donor whose firm owns a stake in ByteDance — and could lose money from a forced sale — lobbied Trump.

In a second term, the turmoil could increase. Trump has promised to use the government’s power to investigate and potentially jail his political opponents. He has encouraged his supporters to use violence to get their way. And he has so angered many Democrats that they became radicalized on several issues (including Covid lockdowns, immigration and policing) in ways that have divided the party.

A politically chaotic U.S. could allow other countries to assert more global influence.

I understand that Trump supporters will object to the idea that he could undermine the national interest. Many support him precisely because they believe he can protect the country in a way no other politician will. His central promise, of course, is to make America great again.

What’s striking, however, is that the country’s biggest global rivals believe that a Trump victory will serve their interests instead.

  • The Florida Supreme Court allowed the state to ban abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, but voters will get to weigh in. A ballot measure in November would protect abortions until around 24 weeks if passed.

  • Voters will also get to decide whether to legalize recreational marijuana in the state, Politico reports.

Where to eat: The Times critic Pete Wells revealed his annual ranking of the 100 best restaurants in New York City. See the list.

Murder: The Chinese billionaire behind Netflix’s “3 Body Problem” was poisoned. Read about a case “as bizarre as a Hollywood blockbuster.”

Walking and talking: In London, urban ramblers find friendship and fitness by strolling the city together.

“The plane is fine”: Inside an airline course to help people overcome their fear of flying.

Denmark: A writer returns to his grandparents’ former home — a castle.

Ask Well: Should you eat your vegetables before your carbs for better blood sugar?

Lives Lived: Esther Coopersmith was a long-reigning Washington hostess, a well-connected diplomat and a top fund-raiser. For decades, a place at her dinner table provided access to money, influence and power. She died at 94.

College basketball: Caitlin Clark scored 41 points, including nine three-pointers, as Iowa’s beat L.S.U. to advance to a second straight Final Four.

The lineup: Connecticut will join Iowa in the Final Four after a 80-73 victory over No. 1 seed U.S.C.

M.L.B.: Ronel Blanco of the Houston Astros threw the first no-hitter of the baseball season in a 10-0 win against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Recovering history: In June 1922, an explosion destroyed an office in Dublin’s main court complex, causing the loss of sensitive documents and census returns dating to the Middle Ages.

Seven years ago, a group of experts started a project to recover that history. The team has found a quarter of a million pages of duplicates in libraries and archives. Read about the team’s efforts.



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *