Editor’s Note: Who do the Chinese prefer in the upcoming U.S. presidential election- Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump? This author claims that while academics and think tank experts prefer Clinton, many ordinary Chinese and government officials are Trump fans. The article outlines a few reasons why Chinese people often prefer Trump.
The Chinese media tends to view the U.S. presidential election critically, calling it a game for the rich to burn money rather than a true expression of public opinion. However, many Chinese care about the election as much as Americans do, from government officials to those in the private sector. The change in leadership will only indirectly affect China itself, but will have a large impact on U.S.-China relations.
The Chinese government and people have similar thoughts on the election as many Americans. Chinese experts say that Hillary Clinton is seen as an old friend of China by some and an old enemy by others. Her policies will be predictable. Donald Trump, on the hand other, is completely unfamiliar with China and the uncertainly he may bring as president is cause for concern.
The China Card
U.S. presidential candidates often play the “China” card. This strategy is especially popular with challengers from the opposition party. The threat of China is an economic one, rather than political or military. Politicians up for election say that Chinese workers steal jobs from Americans. This is one of Trump’s strategies for his campaign. After decades of this rhetoric, Chinese have seen that candidates who target China during their campaigns are simply trying to earn votes from blue-collar workers impacted by globalization. Once a candidate is elected, the issue will not be brought up again.
“It seems like everyone in Asia is focused on it. Everyone is concerned about who our next president is,” said Central for Strategic and International Studies China Power Project director Bonnie Glaser. “But I don’t think ordinary Chinese people pay particular attention to it, they pay more attention to their own problems.”
Chinese see Trump as rich and colorful. He has been described in China as an “irrational figure.” He has a big mouth and sounds naïve when he speaks. But he is seen as a candidate who may change Sino-U.S. relations. While his history as a businessman is open to question, he is seen as “pragmatic.”
Chinese policy experts prefer Hillary Clinton. They believe that as a former member of President Obama’s cabinet, she will continue the current state of Sino-US relations. This view ignores the differences between Clinton and Obama. Clinton is tougher in Obama in highlighting America’s national strength and has criticized China in the past. Last year, she spoke out against the arrest of five feminists in China who were participating in illegal activities.
However, Chinese experts believe that Clinton is “basically consistent.” Even if her actions go against the interests of China, at least they can be predicted.
Trump has accused China of harming U.S. interests through unfair trade and exchange-rate policies. “We cannot continue to let China rape our country- this is what they are doing- the greatest theft in world history,” he said. Trump has vowed to impose high import taxes on Chinese goods. However, his promise seems more like an attempt to pull votes, rather than an actual policy plan.
Chinese people are confused about Trump. He makes nasty remarks about China’s economy and U.S. trade with China. But few people actually believe that he will follow through with his plans.
“Donald Trump Super Fan Club”
Trump has many fans in China. There are several online organizations dedicated to him including the “Donald Trump Super Fan Club,” and “God Emperor Trump.” One Weibo account, “Trump Global Fan Club,” posts praise of both Trump’s foreign policy and his daughter’s looks. At the same time, some of the online praise Trump receives is actually ironic.
The Chinese media has a theory that Chinese people see Trump as a funny and unscrupulous clown. They say that Netizens hope that Trump will get elected in order to confuse the United States. Many believe if Trump is elected, the United States will lose its competiveness across the board and give China more opportunities to catch up.
There are still a considerable number of people in China who believe that Trump will better serve China’s national interests. Glaser outlined four possible reasons why Chinese people may support Trump:
1) Trump criticized the United States military presence in Japan and South Korea and said that the countries should pay for their own defense. This would weaken the cooperative agreements between the three countries. Then China would have an advantage in the region and its local competitors would be forced to spend more on national defense.
2) The United States spent more time and money in Asia under Obama, and therefore now has a large influence in the region. This is a threat to China’s rise. Trump talks about combating terrorism which would turn U.S. attention back to the Middle East and away from Asia.
3) Many believe that Trump’s business background has given him a pragmatic attitude. He would not stick to unrealistic “principles” when attempting diplomacy. This is attractive to some Chinese.
4) Many are worried that Clinton will be critical of “women’s rights” and other issues in China. When she is elected, she may “find fault” with China in many areas. Therefore, Chinese officials and ordinary Chinese would prefer to deal with Trump.
At the same time, Chinese state media has not been kind to Trump. They pointed out quite bluntly that American democracy has been characterized by politicians making empty promises, which is why a clown-like figure like Trump has made it to the top.
Netizens, however, lean towards Trump. In a survey, 68 percent said that they supported Trump for president. Only 8 percent supported Clinton. 24 percent did not have an opinion.
Many believe that no matter who wins the election, both candidates will be just as bad for China.
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Keywords: Chinese people Donald Trump Donald Trump China
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The Chinese people might want Trump in power. They like money as much as he does. The CPC, on the other hand, will get a surprise. When Trump brings home the marines and infantry both Japan and Korea will go nuclear in 6 to 12 months. Taiwan and the South China Sea are imperialist grabs by the CPC. This has the Russians worried. After all, Sakhalin, Vladivostok, and other expanses of Russia belonged to the Ming and Qing Dynasties. So not all bodes well for China in the Donald era. Like it or not, the Chinese economy really does realy on American consumption for a big part of it's growth.
Jan 22, 2017 03:13 Report Abuse
My 2 cents, Trump can be negotiated with, he is first and foremost a businessman, he will negotiate with China and come to an agreement on every known problems. Hillary is a known psychotic and extremely ruthless person, she will blast off China from the map if it keeps bullying its way around, she may also start a war with Russia, she can't be negotiated with.
Nov 08, 2016 22:00 Report Abuse