USA

The message Kamala Harris sends as Biden's vice presidential pick

Harris's entrance makes a powerful statement on racial diversity, after the Black Lives Matter movement transformed this year's White House race. She would be the first person of color to serve as vice president, and the first woman. The Biden-Harris team far more accurately reflects the demographic make up of America today than the Trump-Pence combo -- which is running on nostalgia and flagrant racial rhetoric -- and it is expected to unify the Democratic Party's base.
In further contrast with the current commander-in-chief, Biden is showing that he doesn't hold a grudge and isn't intimidated by a strong woman, after Harris stung him in a Democratic primary debate. He is also keeping faith with African American voters, many of them women, who rescued his faltering primary campaign.
Harris is charismatic and a strong debater. She is viewed as competent and importantly at 55, is two decades younger than her running mate, who would be the oldest President inaugurated for a first term. It's not difficult to picture her in the Oval Office, and she will likely be the heir apparent in 2024 if Biden wins this year -- a possibility that Trump's campaign framed as Biden surrendering "control...to the radical mob."
While Harris is the safer vice presidential pick for her own party, Trump's initial personal reaction -- hitting racial stereotypes -- shows that he will inflame the baser elements of US society to try to make her a liability. After calling Harris a "fine choice" just weeks ago, Trump accused her on Tuesday of being a liar — rich since he's made more than 20,000 false or misleading claims as President, according to the Washington Post's count -- and referred to her as "nasty," "horrible" and one of the "meanest" people in the US Senate.

'They're not going to be competitive'

The cracks are already showing in Trump's new interest in democracy and human rights in Hong Kong. In a radio interview Tuesday, the President seemed eager for America to profit from China's crackdown in the autonomous territory -- despite his own government's criticisms of Beijing.
"For years Hong Kong was making a lot of money that we could have been making in the New York Stock Exchange and our great exchanges," he told Clay Travis on Fox Sports Radio, adding later: "We gave tremendous incentives that cost us a fortune to keep Hong Kong viable and going, and now what we've done, I've ended everything, I've ended all of that. There is no incentive whatsoever. We're not sending money through incentives back down, we're going to make a lot more money because they're not going to be competitive."

Apple Daily

While some Americans skip face masks to assert their democratic freedoms, Hong Kongers facing real suppression by Chinese authorities protested differently on Tuesday: queuing in the streets to pick up copies of Apple Daily, a pro-democracy newspaper whose owner was arrested this week under the territory's controversial new national security law. Jimmy Lai was one of dozens arrested so far under the law, including four students and Agnes Chow, a prominent 23-year-old pro-democracy activist. Above, copies of the Apple Daily newspaper -- paid for by a collection of pro-democracy district councillors -- stacked for distribution on August 11. The white headline reads "200 police searched Next Media, arrested Jimmy Lai." The red headline reads "Apple will strive on."

'The next Hong Kong'

It was a foreboding moment during the highest ranking visit to Taiwan by a US official since America severed relations with the island in favor of China, 41 years ago: "China continues to pressure Taiwan to accept its political conditions, conditions that will turn Taiwan into the next Hong Kong," Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu told US Health Secretary Alex Azar.

Taiwan is unfinished business for Beijing, now that it has succeeded in bringing Macau and Hong Kong under more direct control. Long ago, Chinese patriarch Deng Xiaoping offered the island 'one country, two systems' protection if it rejoined the mainland. But Beijing's recent crackdown in Hong Kong is an unappetizing example of how such promises play out.

Azar is ostensibly in Taipei to compare notes on the coronavavirus — and the flailing US could certainly use some advice from a government that masterminded one of the world's most competent responses to the pandemic. But no one is fooled. Azar's trip is a huge diplomatic coup for Taiwan and a calculated escalation of the confrontation between Trump's administration and China — one that amounts to a poke in the eye for Xi Jinping on an issue his government care about deeply.
Washington and Beijing are feuding over the virus, TikTok, tariffs, Huawei, intellectual property, espionage, the South China Sea and Hong Kong. But Azar's visit was a reminder that Taiwan -- to which Washington is bound by law to offer the means of its defense -- could be the most dangerous potential flashpoint in the new US-China standoff.

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