Storming of Capitol takes US to darker, more divided abyss: Chinese observers
Published: Jan 07, 2021 08:40 PM

A member of a pro-Trump mob bashes an entrance of the Capitol Building in an attempt to gain access on Wednseday in Washington. Photo: AFP

 The violent scene in Washington D.C won't overturn the result of the US presidential election or disrupt the US government's transition of power, as President Donald Trump may have wished, but would hasten his accountability after Joe Biden takes office, said Chinese observers. 

Seasoned US watchers also called the event a "symbolic tragedy," and it will bring the US into a darker and more drastic social and political division, and undermine the country's laws and rules. Its governance and system are deeply rigged, and what the US needs is thorough social reform, they said. 

On Wednesday, Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building, which forced the suspension of a joint session of Congress to certify Biden's electoral victory. At least four died during the riots. A woman was shot to death; three others died of what were called medical emergencies. 

Lawmakers returned to the Capitol after the building was secured and resumed the counting of Electoral College votes. The US Congress confirmed Biden's victory on Thursday. 

Trump then announced that there will be "an orderly transition on January 20," according to a statement posted by White House aide Dan Scavino on Twitter on Thursday.

Rigged system 

Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times that no matter how Trump and his supporters try to overturn the election result, it won't be overturned and the government's transition of power will continue. 

Some Congress members floated with the idea of invoking the 25th Amendment, which requires Vice President Mike Pence and a majority of the Congress to vote to remove Trump from office, due to his inability to "discharge the powers and duties of his office," CNN quoted a well-placed Republican source as saying.

Li believes that Trump's inciting of rioters, which placed his personal interests above the public interest, could lead to him serving jail time, Li said. 

It is always believed that the US system is resilient, which guarantees a power balance even if a terrible president takes power. And a fixed-term election prevents the current government from descending into bad consequences, Sun Taiyi, an assistant professor of political science at Christopher Newport University, told the Global Times on Wednesday

Yet the storming of the Capitol changed such belief said Sun, explaining that the US system relies largely on widely acquiescent norms. For example, the loser of the election acknowledges the result and peacefully hands over power, and protests have to be non-violent. 

The impact of Trump and his supporters will be long term. "Maybe losers will copy Trump," said Sun.  

Li believes that US politicians should reflect on their country's current plight: Why a politician who focuses only on himself, like Trump, has risen to power. "And Trump is not the only one. He represents a class and a group in the US," Li said.," according to Li. 

The incident will sabotage the US sense of law and order in the long run, and will show that law and order are just tools for some politicians to reinforce their power. "It will be hard for the US to uphold its reputation as 'A City upon a Hill,' and its international image will be severely damaged," said Li. 

The social and political division will continue even if Biden takes office, since the incident has fueled confrontation between the two parties; and there are extremists in both parties whose existence will always be factors that endangers US stability and unity, said Zhang Tengjun, an assistant research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies. 

A survey conducted by YouGov, a global public opinion and date company, shows that 21 percent of 1,397 registered voters say they support the assault on the Capitol. Those who believe that voter fraud took place and affected the election outcome are especially likely to feel that today's events were justified, at 56 percent. 

Pandora's box has been opened. Maybe Trump believes he is a general who leads the trend, but eventually he will find out that he, too, is just a chess piece, said Sun. 

In a move described by experts as "differentiating themselves from Trump," the US president's top National Security Council officials and a deputy White House chief of staff, including National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien and his deputy, Matt Pottinger, are considering resigning over the president's encouragement of protests, Bloomberg reported. 

Security forces respond after the US President Donald Trump's supporters breached the US Capitol security in Washington DC, US on January 6, 2021. Pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol as lawmakers were set to sign off Wednesday on President-elect Joe Biden's electoral victory in what was supposed to be a routine process headed to Inauguration Day. Photo: AFP

Future takes on China

Democrats took narrow control of the Senate on Wednesday after winning both runoff elections in Georgia, giving them control of Congress and the White House for the first time since 2011.

Experts believe this will empower Biden with more space and flexibility to carry out his China policy. Yet no matter which party takes office, the current hostility toward China won't be eliminated.

Although antagonism toward China is shared by both the US Congress and the US society, if Biden is a wise politician, he should find a way for Beijing and Washington to cooperate, because there's an urgent need for it, Li noted.

Zhang believes that unlike Trump, who launched a full-scale attack on China, the Biden administration's China take will focus mainly on human rights issues, trade and tech competition.

"Negotiations will resume at a certain level, which helps get bilateral relations back to the rational track," said Zhang.