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Opinion | Who are the world's good leaders?

(Illustration credit: Wuheqilin)

By Philip Yeung, a university teacher


It's a topsy-turvy world out there. The world cries out for leaders who can steady the ship of state. Instead, we have a parade of fools like Boris Johnson, Scott Morrison and Justin Trudeau.

Boris is, undoubtedly, a gift to the entertainment world, but he doesn't belong in government. Previously, he has parlayed his non-seriousness into his personal brand, from which he can wriggle out of any scandal. But this time, with "partygate", the party is over. Like a kite dancing in the hurricane, he is crashing to earth. No one can trust a single word coming out of his mouth. With zero interest in the mundane business of government, he only comes to life at parties or in front of the camera.

Every time, when he opens his mouth, only hot air comes out. This time, not even his unruly, carefully curated, tousled hair can save him. Clueless about how to govern, and callous to the sufferings of others, he ordered the evacuation of pets over endangered people in the chaotic withdrawal from Kabul. Who knows what lurks in his dark heart? To him, life is just a game, to be played by his rules. He is the living embodiment of Etonian entitlement.

In foreign affairs, he is a one-trick pony, his sole role being a docile US stooge. He follows at his master's heels into potential armed conflict where Britain has no business to be. He has forgotten the shame that has been visited upon Tony Blair in Iraq and looks likely to repeat that folly. Having decoupled from the EU, Britain's most important partner, unfriended China, the world's major rising power, and betrayed France, he now faces a country that demands its pound of flesh. What kind of drug-addled leader would send his country's newest aircraft carrier out to the South China Sea, looking for trouble, in a region that has long ceased to be Britain's sphere of influence, endlessly burning precious dollars his country can't afford—all for the sake of reliving Britain's imperial past?

Boris, you were born two centuries too late!

Without an ounce of common sense, or an iota of strategic sense, the best that can be said about Boris is that he is never dull. He is unprepared to govern, and unfit to lead. Woe betide any nation that picks Boris as helmsman. He has no clue where Britain is heading, only that he wants to go back to the past. But Winston Churchill he is not, with no idea about the future, no heart for the present and only an obsession with the past. I nominate Boris the geopolitical clown of the world, an expensive joke that Britain can ill-afford, good for boozy parties, but not for party politics.

Sitting one notch below Boris in the totem pole of fools is Canada's Justin Trudeau. Despite his lineage, his CV is alarmingly thin. Trading on his name, this former bar-room bouncer has become top leader. For once Trump was right, calling the Canadian prime minister "weak and stupid", allowing his country to be played like a pawn and dragged into a prolonged tug-of-war with China over Huawei's CFO, whereas his father had studiously cultivated China as an ally. Under Justin, Canada has become the 51st state of the US, with none of the rights, and all of the complications of union. Under his father, neutral Canada refused to live in the pocket of the US, and had a moderating influence on its neighbor's China policies. With his son's total tilt towards the US, not a scintilla of that influence remains. It's gone with the Trumpian hurricane. Foolishly, Trudeau signed up for 5-Eyes to contain China, sending Canadian naval vessels to the most combustible region in the world, the South China Sea. The US has an agenda on containing China which Canada ostensibly doesn't share. No good can come out of this. If you go looking for trouble, you will find it, sooner or later. All it takes is an accidental cannon and you will find Canadian ships at the bottom of the ocean. And for what?

Trudeau's one weapon is his good looks. But looks don't amount to a hill of beans in building relationships. Yes, his looks can charm the pants off the wives of foreign leaders, cuckolding buffoons like Trump. Maybe that's why Trump has a visceral dislike of Trudeau. But the world needs global leaders with brains, not political 'gigolos' with brawn.

Where Boris is funny, Trudeau is weak. Despite being a former bouncer, Justin is seen by Trump as a soft bullying target. Both Boris and Justin share a disinterest in the future, devoid of vision, of strategic awareness, of long-term planning. Both gravitate to photo ops. For this duo, style trumps substance. They are exemplary shallow leaders.

What about the leader Down Under? Oh well, this one takes the cake for suicidal stupidity. One word sums up Scott Morrison: pig-headedness. Previously, Australia enjoyed a comfortable relationship with China, its largest trading partner, a relationship that had been enormously beneficial to both. But, without provocation, Morrison decides to buy into US accusations of China's abuse of human rights in Hong Kong and Xinjiang. As a Hong Konger, I can tell him he is dead wrong about my city. Hong Kong is a misgoverned place, yes. But that is because Beijing has given local leaders too long a leash for 23 years, letting US-funded activists run amok: It was a total abuse of freedom, not lack of freedom. For nine months, chaos and violence raged. They are Hong Kong's Trump-like rioters.

As for Xinjiang, it is imported terror. The US response to 911 attacks was to invade Iraq on false pretenses, killing over a million innocent civilians. Where was Australia's moral outrage then? China did not invade any country, only rounded up perpetrators for reeducation and job-training, then released them back into the community. Morrison swallowed CIA propaganda whole. Then he doubled down and demanded a US-inspired push to investigate China as the source of the coronavirus. By upping the ante, Morrison has derailed Sino-Australian relations, to the detriment of both. Worse, he is committing billions to building nuclear submarines to counter China's military rise. Didn't he know that China must arm itself to fend off aggressive US containment? What has China done to earn Australian enmity? The militarization of the South China Sea islands is a matter of life-and-death struggle against US encirclement. In the history of the world, have you ever heard of one country, trying non-stop for 70 years to encircle another country? Should China fold its arms and wait for strangulation? What would Morrison do if Australia were in China's shoes? Australia would be entitled to the right of self-defense. With trade dollars dwindling, with billions siphoned off into building unneeded nuclear submarines for a non-existent conflict, where is mad Morrison taking Australia? China and Australia have never been at war. If war breaks out between them, Morrison can take full credit.

The Taiwan affair had long been a sleepy affair, until America nudges Taiwan separatists into poking the dragon's eye. As a Pacific country, Australia should do its part to cool the tempers, not fan the flames. So far, what has Australia gained from being a US pawn? Increasingly, Morrison looks like Australia's Iraq-tainted Tony Blair. Instead of reaping the benefits of the Pacific Century, Australia is swaggering its way into a major needless conflict. I cannot think of an act of geopolitical stupidity more stupendous and suicidal than this.

Western reporters have baselessly and reflexively called President Xi of China "authoritarian", misjudging him on how he handled the Hong Kong and Xinjiang unrest. They are too blind and biased to see that US judgments are nothing more than anti-China propaganda. Do you deny a sovereign nation's right to quell imported riots?

Bye-bye Boris, so long Morrison, au revoir Trudeau. You have been proven unfit for office. As for Trump, this serial liar has been caught spouting over twenty thousand falsehoods during his four years in office, with over a thousand lawsuits under his belt. He may be out of office, but not out of the picture. With over 70 million Americans voting for a narcissistic madman, why are Australia, Britain and Canada still licking America's boots?

By his competence in coping with Covid-19 alone, China's leader, hands down, deserves an avalanche of accolades. No other leader has acted so decisively in "leveling up", which Boris boasted but never delivered, smashing up monopolies and ending oppressive profit-making after-school tutoring, promoting "housing for living, not for speculating", while lifting 800 million out of poverty and building the world's biggest network of high-speed trains. If you go by achievements, there is only one clear winner in good government. If you call massive and unceremonious sacking of corrupt officials and keeping streets midnight-safe "authoritarian", then give me "authoritarian" any day. With so many failed states littering the globe, only one leader thinks long-term and promotes "common prosperity"---and he lives and leads in China.


The views do not necessarily reflect those of DotDotNews.

Read more articles by Philip Yeung:

Opinion | Hong Kong gets a second bite at the cherry

Opinion | China in a Kangaroo Court

Opinion | The world owes China an apology

Opinion | "No jokes please, we are Chinese"



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