By: Joseph Bosco
At least four times in recent decades, a U.S. president has been presented with opportunities and risks from a popular uprising against an oppressive foreign adversary that threatens American interests. Now President Trump, still addressing the consequences of the earlier unconsummated events, faces a new situation as the people of Hong Kong defy Beijing’s further erosion of their guaranteed rights of limited self-government.
Last week, we observed the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. In 1989, thousands were killed or wounded when millions of Chinese demonstrated peacefully in Beijing and other Chinese cities for political reform of the ruling Communist Party and were met by the guns and tanks of the People’s Liberation Army.
President George H.W. Bush kept an unseemly low profile during the horrific events that shocked the world, but sent his national security adviser to assure China’s leader, Deng Xiaoping, that U.S.-China relations would not change. Henry Kissinger, an informal Bush adviser and paramount U.S.-China hand, said Deng had acted to keep order in the nation’s most important public space as any leader would.