(The Guardian) — he ancient Chinese act of kowtowing required touching the ground with one’s forehead in deference to the emperor. The modern American act of kowtowing requires absurdly praising President Donald Trump.

“We thank you for the opportunity and blessing,” the White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, said at a cabinet meeting on Monday, “to serve your agenda.” The health secretary, Tom Price, remarked on “what an incredible honor it is” to lead his department “at this pivotal time under your leadership”.

Those remarks sound similar to some of the toady public statements of China’s premier, Li Keqiang, who in early March attributed “all of the achievements of the past year to the sound leadership” of the top of the Communist party – with his boss, China’s president, Xi Jinping, at its core.

Sadly for Americans, Trump’s requirement that his underlings praise him is not the only way the president is prodding Washington towards Beijing-like levels of obeisance, opacity, prevarication and corruption. Trump’s insistence on “loyalty” from government officials – from low-level appointees to the recently fired FBI director, James Comey – calls to mind the chief Chinese corruption investigators, the heads of the state security and cybersecurity agencies, and the journalists who have pledged “absolute loyalty” to Xi.

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