China and Russia could exploit the chaos that erupted in the U.S. after rioters stormed the halls of Congress on Wednesday, according to one expert.
“Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin will be delighted with the chaos unfolding in the United States right now and will be tempted to take advantage of the situation,” said Emeritus Professor Paul Dibb, a national security expert at the Australian National University, in a Thursday note referring to the leaders of China and Russia, respectively.
Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol on Wednesday, forcing Congress to delay the process of confirming Joe Biden as the next U.S. president.
The U.S. has had tense relationships with the two authoritarian states, which some experts said are challenging American leadership on the global stage.
China in recent years has emerged as a major strategic competitor to the U.S., and both sides have clashed on a range of issues including trade, technology and human rights.
Meanwhile, Russia has grown more assertive internationally. It was found to have interfered in American presidential elections and was suspected of being behind a major cyberattack on U.S. government agencies last year.
As international reactions to Wednesday’s events poured in, there were some who seemingly took pleasure in seeing “United States imploding in this sort of way” and “American democracy being under siege,” said Gorana Grgic, a lecturer in U.S. politics and foreign policy at the University of Sydney.
Such sentiment was seen among those “deemed to be competitors and maybe even rivals of the United States,” Grgic told CNBC’s “Capital Connection” on Thursday, without naming specific countries or persons.
Max Baucus — U.S. ambassador to China from 2014 to 2017 — said he’s concerned “if the Chinese government is gonna make a lot of propaganda” of the U.S. Capitol riots.
“Not just China, it’s other countries. It’s terrible,” Baucus, former Democratic senator from Montana, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Thursday.
China has sought to point out the discrepancy in the way the U.S. framed the riots on Capitol Hill and drew parallels with the protests in Hong Kong that also turned violent and saw mobs vandalize the legislative building in the Chinese city in 2019.
Chinese state-backed tabloid Global Times released a cartoon strip on Twitter depicting Uncle Sam — a common personification of the U.S. — describing the Hong Kong protests as “beautiful sights,” but shouting “shoot the thugs!” when riots broke out in Washington D.C.
In Russia, government-owned daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta led its online rolling coverage on the riots next to comments by Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of Russia’s Federation Council Committee on International Affairs.
Kosachev said the events in D.C. “showed that American democracy was limping on both legs and the United States lost the right to impose a course on other countries.”
— CNBC’s Evelyn Cheng and Holly Ellyatt contributed to this re