A new episode on the sitcom “The Simpsons” gives a brief special shout-out to Hong Kong, suggesting in one scene that US President Donald Trump has reacted poorly to the city’s political crisis.
A preview of the episode shared by show’s Twitter account shows Homer Simpson in a voting booth mulling over who to cast his presidential vote for. Lisa, Homer’s daughter, pulls apart the booth’s curtains and asks, “You’re hesitating over President? Dad, by all that’s decent, how could you forget everything that’s happened over the past four years?”
The Simpsons — October Surprise pic.twitter.com/wCDOrpmN80
— TheSimpsons (@TheSimpsons) October 13, 2020
The clip cuts to a lengthy scroll of the Trump administration’s most controversial policies. Most of them are his responses to local issues including immigration and racial justice protests, like “put children in cages” and “invaded Portland.”
Among the trailing list of 50 reasons not to vote for Trump is “lost Hong Kong.”
The episode will air on October 18.
While it’s unclear what exactly the writers meant by “lost Hong Kong,” the phrase seems to suggest that Trump has not lent support to the city’s pro-democracy protesters, who have been actively calling on foreign politicians to use their influence and policies to help “free Hong Kong” since demonstrations began last summer.
Protesters who support Trump and want him to be re-elected in the coming elections jumped on the apparent claim, arguing that Trump has demonstrated solidarity with their cause.
Under Trump’s leadership, the US has passed a number of laws favorable to the pro-democracy movement including the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, which imposes sanctions on Hong Kong and mainland Chinese officials—including Chief Executive Carrie Lam—deemed to have helped violate the city’s autonomy.
In Facebook comments on an Apple Daily story about the episode, netizens echoed their support for Trump. Some attacked Joe Biden, the US Democratic Party’s presidential candidate who is often seen as soft on China, with one adding that “voting for Biden would mean losing Hong Kong, and losing America too.”
On local forum LIHKG, where there is a particularly active group of Trump supporters, one netizen said, “These 50 reasons are exactly why Trump deserves votes.”
Another LIHKG user wrote, “But did [Trump] even do the above [in the list]?” One reply said that the “reasons” had been “twisted by leftists.”
“The Simpsons” has been known to discuss political issues, like gun control and gay marriage, in its episodes with a left-leaning stance.
While the Trump administration has enacted policies demonstrating support for the Hong Kong movement, Trump has contradicted himself over his views of Hong Kong and China numerous times. Last August, he tweeted that China’s president, Xi Jinping, is a “great leader” who is capable of “quickly and humanely solv[ing] the Hong Kong problem.” He has also labeled the hong Kong protests as “riots.”
Yet, in July, when announcing the removal of Hong Kong’s special trade privileges with the US, Trump denounced “China’s oppressive actions against the people of Hong Kong.”
Hongkonger’s support, or lack of, support for the Trump administration has long been a point of contention in the movement. Just as there are protesters who unapologetically back Trump, perhaps unaware of his track record of violating civil and human rights in the US, there are vocal calls for the Hong Kong movement not to align itself with the controversial president.
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