As the United States (US) Congress stood against human rights abuses in China, the country’s president, Donald Trump repeatedly overlooked the mass captivity of at least one million Uyghur Muslims in the communist nation, former national security adviser John Bolton claims in his new book, The Room Where It Happened–A White House Memoir, which is scheduled to be released on June 23.
Seeking the Chinese government’s economic clout to tilt the balance in favour of his re-election, Trump told his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, that the detention camps housing Chinese minorities were “exactly the right thing to do,” Bolton recounts in the book.
“The National Security Council’s top Asia staffer, Matthew Pottinger, told me that Trump said something very similar during his November 2017 trip to China,” Bolton noted.
In a scathing critique that Trump’s main focus was winning a second term at the White House in the 2020 election, Bolton’s book alleges that Trump “stressed the importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome.”
China is the largest importer of soybeans in the world.
On May 27, the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved legislation calling for sanctions against Chinese officials responsible for human rights violations against Uyghur Muslims.
China-US ties have become extremely turbulent in recent years as Washington has gone on an all-out offensive against Beijing and introduced bills related to Hong Kong, Tibet and even blacklisted Chinese companies on American stock exchanges.
After massive anti-government protests in Hong Kong last year, Bolton claimed Trump said he didn’t “want to get involved” and “we have human rights problems too.”
Ebbing diplomatic ties
During Trump’s presidency, Sino-American relations have been at a low ebb. The US president has tried to blame China’s government for the global Covid-19 coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic and referred to the disease as “the Chinese virus.”
Bolton writes, “I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my White House tenure that wasn’t driven by re-election calculations.”
In a meeting with Xi Jinping in June 2019, Trump “stunningly turned the conversation to the US presidential elections, alluding to China’s economic capability to affect the ongoing campaigns, pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win,” Bolton claims in his memoir.
By intervening in controversial cases involving major firms in China and Turkey, Trump appeared to “give personal favours to dictators he liked,” Bolton said, adding that he reported his concerns to attorney general, William Barr.
Bolton, a controversial figure in US politics, spent 17 months as Trump’s aide before resigning last September.
During a 2018 summit with North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, passed Bolton a note maligning the president, saying, “He is so full of shit.”
Despite objections from his close advisers, Bolton claims that “Trump was desperate to have the meeting (with Kim) at any price.”
‘Bolton broke the law’
In an interview on Fox News Channel on June 17, Trump insisted Bolton “broke the law” by revealing “classified information,” having previously called the book a “criminal liability.”
He said “That to me is a very strong criminal problem and he knows he’s got classified information. Any conversation with me is classified, but then it becomes even worse if he lies about the conversation.”
The Justice Department filed a motion on June 17 seeking to halt the book’s publication to “prevent the harm to national security that will result if his manuscript is published to the world.”
Simon & Schuster, the book’s publisher said in a statement: “Tonight’s filing by the government is a frivolous, politically motivated exercise in futility.”
In the thick of an election campaign, presumptive presidential challenger, Joe Biden of the Democratic Party, said Trump “sold out the American people to protect his political future.”
He added” “If these accounts are true, it’s not only morally repugnant, it’s a violation of Donald Trump’s sacred duty to the American people to protect America’s interests and defend our values.”
Bolton did not say whether Trump’s actions amounted to impeachable conduct, but added that they should have been investigated by the US House of Representative.
Another potentially damaging book, this time from Trump’s family, is already among Amazon’s bestsellers even though it has not yet been released.
The president’s niece, Mary Trump, has named her memoir Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.
Another book on first lady, Melania Trump, is also selling well on Amazon. The Art of Her Deal is also published by Simon & Schuster.
Trump has also sought a ban on his niece’s book, but constitutional experts said it would be highly unlikely for courts to block its publication.
The allegation that Trump sought the help of a major US adversary to help secure a victory in the 2020 election will have far-reaching consequences across six months after he was impeached for seeking help from Ukraine with his re-election bid, even though he was acquitted by the Senate.
Bolton devoted the final chapter of the 577-page book to the Ukraine matter.