The Washington Post

As China blocked

Pres­i­dent con­demns U.S. me­dia as Xi or­ders more news sites blocked

- BY DAVID NAKA­MURA david.naka­mura@wash­post.com U.S. News · US Politics · Politics · Donald Trump · China · United States of America · Twitter · London · Washington · Belarus · Xi Jinping · Communist Party of China · NBC · New York County, NY · Iceland · Austria · Mexico · Virginia · Hong Kong · Beijing · Barack Obama · U.S. government · White House · Jamal Khashoggi · Saudi Arabia · Kim Jong-woon · United Nations · Kim Jong-il · Myanmar · Mike Pence · Mike Pompeo · New York City · John R. Bolton · Asia · Belgium · Asia Society · Great Firewall of China · Trump National Golf Club · Saudi Arabia national football team · Otto Warmbier

U.S. news me­dia out­lets on the In­ter­net, Pres­i­dent Trump de­nounced the same com­pa­nies on Twit­ter.

The news out of China over the week­end was bleak: Two more ma­jor in­ter­na­tional me­dia com­pa­nies — the Lon­don-based Guardian and The Wash­ing­ton Post — were added to the na­tion’s “Great Fire­wall,” blocked on the In­ter­net to the coun­try’s 1.4 bil­lion cit­i­zens as part of a crack­down on dis­sent by Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping.

The on­go­ing fade-out of pub­lic in­for­mation co­in­cided with the 30th an­niver­sary this month of the blood­shed of the Tianan­men Square protests, a free-speech demon­stra­tion that the Com­mu­nist Party crushed with mil­i­tary force as the world watched in hor­ror.

Mean­while, in Wash­ing­ton, Pres­i­dent Trump had a mes­sage: The Post, CNN and NBC were, he wrote on Twit­ter, “Fake and Cor­rupt News Me­dia.” The New York Times and CNN are “truly The En­emy of the Peo­ple!” MSNBC, which he called “the op­po­si­tion,” was broad­cast­ing “such lies, al­most ev­ery­thing they were say­ing was the op­po­site of the truth.”

“I know it is not at all ‘Pres­i­den­tial’ to hit back at the Cor­rupt Me­dia, or peo­ple who work for the Cor­rupt Me­dia, when they make false state­ments about me or the Trump Ad­min­is­tra­tion,” Trump de­clared in an­other tweet. “Prob­lem is, if you don’t hit back, peo­ple be­lieve the Fake News is true. So we’ll hit back!”

Trump’s tweet­storm against the press corps over the past three days, ap­par­ently sparked by his be­lief that he was not get­ting enough credit for an im­mi­gra­tion deal with Mex­ico, was noth­ing new. The in­cen­di­ary words were so rou­tine that the pres­i­dent, af­ter dis­count­ing a Times story on the deal as “false,” took his mo­tor­cade to Trump Na­tional Golf Club in Ster­ling, Va., for five hours of rest and re­lax­ation.

But the pres­i­dent’s hos­til­ity to­ward the press in the United States again stood as a strik­ing companion to the an­tag­o­nism that au­thor­i­tar­ian regimes dis­play to­ward the free flow of in­for­mation. Trump’s tweets came as an es­ti­mated 1 mil­lion peo­ple in Hong Kong took to the streets to protest a new ex­tra­di­tion law an­nounced by the Com­mu­nist Party, fear­ing fur­ther ero­sion of the one-coun­try, two-sys­tems au­ton­omy that has ex­isted since the Bri­tish re­turned con­trol of the is­land to Bei­jing in 1997.

“The fact that the pres­i­dent is will­ing to at­tack the me­dia so ex­plic­itly and so di­rectly makes it harder to point out and to stand up for those at­tacks in other parts of the world, in­clud­ing China,” said Jef­frey Prescott, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ac­tion, a think tank formed by for­mer Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials to counter Trump’s for­eign pol­icy.

White House of­fi­cials did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

The pres­i­dent’s si­lence on China’s abuse of free speech and hu­man rights fol­lows his rel­a­tively weak re­ac­tions to other abuses around the world, in­clud­ing the killing of Wash­ing­ton Post con­tribut­ing colum­nist Ja­mal Khashoggi at the hands of Saudi Ara­bia. Trump said in Fe­bru­ary that he be­lieved North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s claim that he did not have prior knowl­edge of the mis­treat­ment of Otto Warm­bier, an Amer­i­can col­lege stu­dent who died days af­ter be­ing re­leased, in a coma, from 17 months in captivity in 2017.

Trump also has not spo­ken publicly about the eth­nic vi­o­lence against Ro­hingya Mus­lims in Myan­mar or the mass in­car­cer­a­tion of more than 1 mil­lion Uighur Mus­lims in “reed­u­ca­tion camps” in China — leav­ing the job of publicly con­demn­ing those ac­tions to his sub­or­di­nates, in­clud­ing Vice Pres­i­dent Pence and Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo.

Last month, when two Reuters jour­nal­ists were re­leased af­ter more than 500 days in gov­ern­ment con­fine­ment in Myan­mar over their re­port­ing of the killing of the Ro­hingya, Pence and Pom­peo hailed the news. A White House spokes­woman also re­leased a state­ment. But Trump said not a word. The two jour­nal­ists, who had been named with other jour­nal­ists as Time mag­a­zine’s “Per­son of the Year” in 2018, re­ceived the Pulitzer Prize for their work last month in New York.

The twin spec­ta­cles of Bei­jing clamp­ing down on free speech and Trump ratch­et­ing up his at­tacks on news or­ga­ni­za­tions comes amid a grow­ing trade war be­tween the United States and China.

While the White House has sought to force Bei­jing to com­mit to new mea­sures aimed at pre­vent­ing theft of Amer­i­can trade se­crets, the pres­i­dent has failed to go to bat for the West­ern me­dia com­pa­nies that are un­able to do busi­ness in China.

Trump has given the sig­nal to hawk­ish aides, in­clud­ing Pom­peo and na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser John Bolton, to get tougher with Bei­jing, noted Daniel Rus­sel, who served as a high-rank­ing Asia pol­icy of­fi­cial in the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“But there’s no rea­son to be­lieve that’s re­flec­tive of what Pres­i­dent Trump be­lieves in, and we’ve seen in the past when deals could be made that suit Trump’s pur­pose, in­clud­ing with re­spect to the most egre­gious hu­man rights vi­o­la­tor, Kim Jong Un, Trump does not hes­i­tate to un­der­cut his own ad­vis­ers,” said Rus­sel, now a vice pres­i­dent at the Asia So­ci­ety.

 ?? JABIN BOTS­FORD/THE WASH­ING­TON POST ?? Pres­i­dent Trump, seen Fri­day in Wash­ing­ton, has spent the past few days de­nounc­ing the press corps on Twit­ter. His at­tacks, though not un­usual, co­in­cide with China’s crack­down on in­for­mation.
JABIN BOTS­FORD/THE WASH­ING­TON POST Pres­i­dent Trump, seen Fri­day in Wash­ing­ton, has spent the past few days de­nounc­ing the press corps on Twit­ter. His at­tacks, though not un­usual, co­in­cide with China’s crack­down on in­for­mation.

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