No masking Trump's weaknesses

Editorial | mary Ma 14 Jul 2020

US President Donald Trump donned a mask in public for the first time in a move that could have symbolic significance.

Although he claimed to have worn one during a visit to a Ford factory less than two months ago, he was still reluctant to cover his face in front of the cameras.

He thought he was strong and didn't want to reveal his weak side.

Everyone has a weakness. If Trump used to think that wearing a mask was a sign of weakness, did his wearing a mask mean he now admitted he was, indeed, weak?

Without doubt, he should have worn a mask a long time ago to set an example for Americans. Had he done so, the US toll - currently at more than three million infections and over 30,000 deaths - would have been fewer.

Preoccupied with his presidential powers and re-election rather than public health during a pandemic crisis, Trump must have gone through a personal struggle before he was persuaded to don the mask.

Nonetheless, I'm glad that he finally came to terms with the need to wear a mask in public even if it was too little, too late.

Trump's struggle may also be reflected in his relative inaction on China after Beijing swiftly passed the national security law and enacted it in Hong Kong.

His administration may have announced some sanctions, including a ban on high-technology exports to Hong Kong that can be used for both civilian and military purposes, as well as restricting the visas of some unnamed local officials.

But these actions fell short of the "nuclear" options aimed at rattling Hong Kong's international financial status, including its ability to raise capital for Chinese companies.

After politburo member Chen Quanguo and three others were added to a sanction list in connection to Beijing's Xinjiang policy, it was speculated that - even if Trump signs later this week the Hong Kong Autonomy Act recently passed by Congress - individual mainland and SAR officials may be targeted for sanctions.

This is unlikely to be powerful enough to change Beijing's hardline policy towards Hong Kong.

Some tougher options were floated, including steps to upstage Hong Kong's role as an international financial center but, according to the Wall Street Journal, these proposals never gained traction at a senior level in the White House.

So when Trump is expected to make an announcement on China this week at the earliest, the nuclear options are unlikely be included.

It's strange that the "tweeter-in-chief" seemed to have maintained a rather low profile this past week without tweeting as frequently as usual.

After setbacks suffered from the Black Lives Matter movement, his recent mistake in commuting long-time friend Roger Stone's sentence has again raised many an eyebrow.

Perhaps Trump is now prepared for a defeat in November's election.

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