While Donald Trump’s campaign may be falling apart in the states, there’s at least one place where he still reigns supreme — the Chinese internet.
The Republican presidential candidate has not been shy about taking harsh stances against China throughout his controversial campaign, suggesting that Chinese President Xi Jinping be given “a double-sized Big Mac” instead of a state dinner upon visiting the White House and accusing China of “raping” America — or more recently “pillaging.”
However, those tough words have done little to douse enthusiasm for Trump’s campaign among his Chinese supporters online. On Zhihu, a 20-million-user social network known for having many educated middle-class users, most netizens have expressed their approval for Trump’s “border wall,” “Muslim ban” and “war on political correctness.” Under the topic “2016 presidential election,” nine out of ten of the most upvoted posts are in support of The Donald and his policies. A post with 3,500 upvotes says, “Donald Trump abandons his peaceful luxurious life and puts it at risk to run for the presidency because he is the true patriot who wants to help his country.” Another post that has been upvoted 2,600 times even goes on to state, “Donald Trump is the only Republican candidate with a pragmatic approach to foreign affairs.”
On the other side, the presumptive Democratic Party nominee, Hillary Clinton, does not seem to have as much luck appealing to Chinese netizens. Some users on Zhihu castigate Clinton, asserting that she is an “old power-crazed woman,” while many others dismiss the former Secretary of State because “she has pushed an aggressive agenda in the South China Sea against us.” A long-time critic of China’s human rights record, Clinton isn’t much liked in the Middle Kingdom, her announcement last year that she was running for president drew a colorful mix of nationalistic hatred and sexist slurs from commenters online.
This just confirms, yet again, what we’ve been told by Chinese makers of toilets, masks and toilet paper, China hopes to see Trump WIN BIG in November — even if it’s just to show that democracy is a bad idea.
Although it might seem pretty bizarre that many Chinese would agree with the rhetoric of a candidate who has also found much support within the white supremacist community, Trump does hold a certain kind of appeal, regardless of skin color.
First, the growing number of violent attacks perpetrated by Islamic extremists, both in China and abroad, has validated Trump’s anti-Muslim narrative in the eyes of the predominantly atheist Chinese population, who, despite one poll to the contrary, also agree with maintaining a strong border and building walls, even in the ocean.
Moreover, with thousands of years of imperial rule and the cult of personality surrounding the current Chinese president, strong man politics still holds a good deal of appeal in China. Many Chinese actually view Trump’s narcissistic personalities and undemocratic tendencies as merits.
Despite the fact that he once proposed a 45% tariff on imported goods from China, Chinese also like Trump’s “America First” neo-isolationist agenda, which might give China the room it needs to become the global superpower that it longs to be. Trump has also made clear his absolute hatred for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, which China has repeatedly denounced over the past few years. Anyway, his business and economic shouting points are a welcome respite from accusations about China’s human rights situation.
Even Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” sounds just like the CCP’s oft-repeated personal Chinese Dream of “the great revival of the Chinese nation.” Maybe, just maybe, The Donald should quit while he’s behind and instead go to China and challenge Xi for his throne. After all, he’s already YUGE with the Mandarins.
By Chong Li