Donald Trump and the Chinese leadership have had a complicated relationship since his first day in the White House. Trump’s trade war with China looks set to continue as trade talks with China ended last week without a deal, and the US President threaten to impose an additional $200 billion worth of tariffs on Chinese imports.
Trump’s insistence on engaging China in an economic tit-for-tat has clearly annoyed Beijing, (while damaging the livelihoods of US farmers ) but what do regular Chinese citizens make of Donald Trump?
Unsurprisingly for a US president who has accused China of ‘raping’ the US with unfair trade policies, described developing nations as ‘shithole countries ‘ and allowed America’s image to sink to historic lows , opinions of Donald Trump in China are not particularly flattering.
Prior to Trump’s visit to China, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) asked Beijing residents for their opinions about the outspoken US President.
Sun Cheng, a government employee explained that he saw Trump as a businessman turned politician who would always advocate for America’s rich, ‘a businessman’s instinct – opportunism.’
Fei Danyang, a 42-year-old financial analyst, described the chaos surrounding the trump administration as being worthy of a soap opera, “For us it’s not much different from the House of Cards. It’s like we are just like watching a fire from across a river… The more dramatic it gets, the more fun it is to watch.”
China’s leaders have used the chaos surrounding Trump and his tumultuous Whitehouse to demonstrate the failings of democracy. The state-owned Global Times newspaper used Donald Trump’s rise to argue that democracy was ineffective and potentially dangerous. The Communist Party’s newspaper, People’s Daily, has used Trump’s unpredictable presidency to argue there is a “crisis in capitalist societies” and that Trump’s rise to power is “proof of the truth of Marxism and the superiority of the socialist system.”
Not wishing to be out done by South China Morning Post, Global Times or People’s Daily, the Domino Chinese team took to the streets of Shanghai to gauge for themselves how public sentiment to Trump has fared since he came to power.
A number of the respondents who Felix spoke with were initially reluctant to make any comments about the US presidents, with some replying that it was not their place to comment and that American politics was something they had little or no interest in.
Some of the respondents who were willing to share their opinions on President Trump explained that they considered him to be first and foremost a businessman, and many of his actions could be understood within that context, including his desire to challenge China on trade.
Trump’s desire to put ‘America First’ was also understood and appreciated by those respondents who commented on the US President, with a recognition that putting one’s own country first should be a priority for all politicians.
Trump’s tough immigration policies were also discussed, with one respondent explaining that immigration was something that had become a pressing issue for many countries. While the respondent didn’t particularly like Trump’s tough stance on this issue, she did understand why it had been popular with those in the US who had voted for him.
Unless President Trump is indicted, which is now looking unlikely after the whitewashing of the Mueller report, he will be up for reelection in November 2020 and could be granted another term in power, remaining at the centre of global politics until 2024. By which time the world will have a far clearer picture of President Trump and the debate over whether he is a ‘very stable genius’ , a ‘conman’ or simply a ‘maverick president ’ should finally be wrapped up.