The Atlantic

Democracy Is Under Attack. Will Europe Fight Back?

The EU and its members too often equivocate when it comes to pushing liberal ideals, both within and outside the bloc’s borders.
Source: Jason Lee / Reuters

In early August, as speculation swirled that the Chinese army was getting ready to crack down on pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, President Donald Trump was asked whether he was concerned about the situation there. “Hong Kong is a part of China,” he told reporters on the south lawn at the White House. “They’ll have to deal with that themselves.”

Trump’s ambivalence unsettled politicians in European capitals, where the events in Hong Kong were being closely watched. Not only was the supposed leader of the free world giving Beijing what seemed like a green light, but, in doing so, he was raising pressure on the European Union and its member states—which had remained silent for weeks—to make their own views clear. Europe felt that it had to step

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