President Donald Trump reportedly said China’s decision to detain Uighur Muslims in concentration camps was “exactly the right thing to do” and encouraged Chinese leader Xi Jinping to “go ahead with building the camps,” according to a book excerpt published Wednesday by John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser.
Over the past few years, Trump has frequently oscillated between threatening China and lathering on praise for Xi, but Bolton’s revelation, if true, documents one of the more shocking examples of Trump’s cavalier approach to human rights and reverence for authoritarian leaders.
The excerpt, which Bolton published in the Wall Street Journal, contains numerous instances of Trump downplaying human rights concerns in Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland. Last year, when Hong Kong saw massive protests in response to a controversial extradition bill that chipped away at the semiautonomous region’s tenuous independence from China, Trump reportedly said, “I don’t want to get involved,” and, “We have human-rights problems too.” (Note this is something of a common theme for Trump; in an interview back in 2017, the president responded to Bill O’Reilly calling Vladimir Putin a “killer” by saying, “There are a lot of killers. You think our country’s so innocent?”)
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