Don’t expect to hear much about human rights abuses in the Philippines, Vietnam or China. This trip will be more chummy than challenging
Expect to hear a lot of talk in the coming days about the existential threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons and China’s unfair trade practices, vis a vis the US. The occasion is Donald Trump’s forthcoming 11-day, five-country visit to Asia – he leaves Washington on Friday for Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines. If White House officials have their way, these two “America First” themes will dominate the trip.
What you will hear considerably less about are the appalling human rights records of Trump’s hosts – and his abandonment of almost any pretence of upholding “western values” such as open, democratic governance. It’s true his recent Oval Office predecessors were all guilty, to varying degrees, of double standards on rights. But Trump’s studied insouciance plumbs new depths. He seems to have no standards at all.