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Foreign Policy

Do Chinese Netizens Really Want a President Trump?

Mar 23 , 2016
  • Ma Shikun

    Senior Journalist, the People’s Daily

As Donald Trump sweeps ahead on the campaign trail, one particular tune is getting louder: Trump has numerous fans in China, and many Chinese netizens wish he could win the US presidency. This is a very thought-provoking phenomenon.

Trump is by no means a friendly type in the eyes of Chinese netizens. China has been a frequent victim of his verbal abuse on the campaign trail. He accused China of stealing American jobs, manipulating its currency, and engaging in spying. He threatened that once he gets elected, he would have Apple Inc. produce iPhones in the US, instead of China. He even made the sensational statement that, instead of letting Chinese diplomats enjoy US state banquets, the White House should take them to a McDonald’s. Chinese netizens are just watching him monkey around like a clown, with intense curiosity about the American political circus.

In a certain sense, it is not totally groundless to say Trump has “many fans”, and is “liked”. Netizens’ comments include: “Consider global geo-politics as a full-scale drama, then Hillary Clinton is a seasoned, sophisticated, chameleon-like actress, Trump, on the other hand, is an awkward utility man. Evidently the latter is more prone to making mistakes, more vulnerable to attacks, and easier to handle.” “Trump is a ‘fair and square’ boorish fellow, Hilary Clinton is a scheming and calculating hypocrite.”

Such comments obviously display two layers of meanings.

First, they dislike Clinton more than they do Trump. Clinton made her debut in China in 1995 at the UN 4th Conference on Women in Beijing. She was invited to speak at the meeting as US first lady. Disregarding diplomatic decencies, she engaged in fastidious nitpicking against China, and left immediately after her speech, leaving a very bad impression among the Chinese public. She proposed the US pivot to the Asia-Pacific during her time as Secretary of State, casting a shadow on US-China relations. Once elected president, she would surely redouble her efforts in promoting that policy, which will further threaten security in the Asia-Pacifi, and negatively impact bilateral ties.

Second, netizens are discontented with recent US China policies, particularly because the US has gone back on its previous pledge not to take sides on the Diaoyu Islands and South China Sea issues. It has not only been openly partial to and supported such countries as Japan and the Philippines, but has rushed to the forefront in the confrontation with China, constantly sending military planes and ships into Chinese airspace and territorial waters, even dispatching an aircraft battle group to intimidate China. The kind-hearted Chinese public has always cherished the innocent wish that the two countries could get along on equal footing, develop together, and seek win-win cooperation. The Chinese people are very angry at groundless US provocations. Many of them can’t wait to see the US decline, so that it can no longer act like a tyrant, while Trump seems to be a suitable character for making that happen as soon as possible. Which is why they are willing to see him behind the helm, and why he has “fans” and is “liked”.

Thus, the fact that Chinese netizens want Trump as US President is merely a way for some Chinese citizens to express their resentment against the US. To the general Chinese public, it’s none of their business who American voters choose as their president, and it hardly makes a difference to them.

Interestingly, some in America have taken the “Trump has many fans in China” thing very seriously. Trump’s strong momentum in his campaign has inspired panic within the Republican Party. Many influential Republicans have openly claimed that it would be a nightmare for the GOP if he becomes the Republican presidential candidate, and it would be disastrous to their country once he gets elected US president. It is now a GOP imperative to bring down Trump, whatever it takes. Despite its advantage in the campaign, the Democratic Party can’t rule out the probability of Trump becoming a “dark horse”. There is thus a certain degree of consensus between the two parties that they have to do whatever it takes to stop Trump, which is why China-bashing has again become a tactic acceptable to both parties. To many Americans, China is a current rival, and potential enemy. Hawking the statement that Trump is popular in China is surely detrimental to him, which can deter American voters from voting for him.

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