Kurt Tong
Kurt Tong

The Trump administration muzzled a veteran diplomat, who planned to give a speech in Hong Kong on July 2 that was critical of China’s crackdown of the pro-democracy movement in the city, as part of the president’s attempt to curry favor with Beijing, according to the July 10 Financial Times.

Kurt Tong, who exited as US consulate for Hong Kong and Macau on July 5, had told colleagues that he planned to deliver a “kick-ass” speech on July 2, but was then ordered by the State Dept. to remove critical comments about China and tone down its overall content.

More than 2M people hit the streets in Hong Kong on June 15 to protest a bill that would allow criminal suspects to be extradited to China. That bill violates the “one country, two systems” formula that has been in place since the UK handed the former colony city to China in 1997.

The State Dept. tightened the muzzle on Tong by putting the kibosh on his scheduled appearance today at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

CSIS billed the keynote as a talk about “Hong Kong’s relationship with China and comment about the future direction of American economic policy in the region.”

The group has posted an apology on its website, saying the event has been postponed to a later day and promised “to re-post the event when a new date has been set.”

A State Dept. spokesperson denies that Tong has been censored and claims it needed more time “ensure planning and coordination” of the CSIS address.

Tong isn’t exactly a rabble-rouser. The former Boston Consulting Group associate joined the Foreign Service in 1990. He served as economic counselor (Seoul), environment/science/health counselor (Beijing), treasury attaché (Tokyo) and economic minister (Manilla) before becoming consul in Hong Kong/Macau in August 2016.

Trump though doesn’t give a hoot about Tong's defense of America’s traditional stand for democracy, rule of law and human rights.

To Trump, it's always about him as supreme leader.

The FT reports that Trump cozied up to China’s ruler Xi Jinping during last month’s G20 summit in Japan, promising to turn a blind eye to its crackdown in Hong Kong.

In return, the president wants to revive trade talks so he can put an end to the trade war that he launched against China by slapping tariffs on its exports that are paid by Americans.

He then would shamelessly claim victory in the tariff war and pitch that incredible win to his political base during the 2020 campaign. 

And they would get four more years of Keeping America Great.