Reporter Journal / Chen Weihua

Trump finds huge support - in China poll

By Chen Weihua (China Daily USA) Updated: 2016-05-30 10:59

Trump finds huge support - in China poll

The Shanghai Foreign Language Bookstore on the city's Fuzhou Road sells books by Donald Trump. Gao Erqiang / China Daily

Several of my fellow Chinese journalists went to cover Donald Trump's address to the Rolling Thunder gathering at the National Mall in Washington on Sunday while I was traveling to New York City.

These journalists are quite split over their favored candidates in the US presidential election. But if polls are to be believed, Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, would beat Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton by a landslide, according to a poll on the website of Phoenix TV, a station based in Hong Kong with viewers both on the Chinese mainland and overseas. Chinese, of course, don't get to vote in the US presidential election.

By Sunday evening, the poll, taken by 24,449 people, showed that 61.5 percent support Trump while only 7.8 percent favor Clinton. About 30 percent say it's none of their business.

The two other questions asked by the poll are both related to Trump. On what people think of Trump's "politically incorrect" rhetoric, about 56 percent say he is honest and says things voters don't dare say, while 17.6 percent said his language of racial discrimination should be condemned in the strongest terms. Some 26 percent question if political correctness is relevant.

Trump has been known for his China-bashing language throughout the primaries. The "Donald Trump says China" video clip posted by HuffPost Entertainment in August 2015 on YouTube, in which Trump said the word "China" more than 200 times on various occasions, had more than 5.7 million views by Sunday evening.

Trump has said that "China is raping our country," and "We're being ripped so badly by China" in trade. He claimed "We've rebuilt China." Trump blames China for the loss of US jobs. He has accused China of manipulating its currency and has threatened to impose tariffs of 45 percent on goods imported from China.

While nationalistic sentiment among Chinese is strong and any rhetoric deemed anti-China is likely to evoke strong reaction from netizens, Trump's offensive language on China, like his offensive language regarding other groups, has not hurt him that much among Chinese, at least according to the Phoenix TV poll.

On how they perceive Trump's anti-China rhetoric, 14 percent say they are vehemently against his blaming the US' woes on China. Close to 29 percent say ignore it; it's just campaign talk. The majority, some 58 percent, say what he has said is not important, what he does if he is elected is.

Shen Dingli, a professor of international relations at Shanghai-based Fudan University, is not surprised by the poll. "I predicted that he would be successful," he said.

Shen, an expert on China-US relations, said the three candidates still standing are not much different. He said none of them appreciate China's political system or welcome China's rapid rise.

Shen favors a Trump presidency, saying Trump understands what his country needs, while Hillary Clinton understands less.

"Because he understands America: The US should refuse illegal immigrants; the US shall not allow terrorists coming to the US in the name of refugees etc," Shen said.

"You cannot find a country, like China, where people think exactly as Trump," Shen said.

Like many Chinese netizens, Shen also regards Trump's rhetoric on China as a joke.

Trump, who has said China has taken advantage of the US, also has said he is not blaming the Chinese, but US leaders.

Cheng Li, director of the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution, said he understands why Chinese are upset with Hillary Clinton for her antagonistic attitude toward China regarding the South China Sea and in its relations with Japan.

But Li, who campaigned for the former first lady in 2008, said it is wrong to call her "anti-China".

He cited Clinton's support while secretary of state for the US pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo and her support for the 100,000 Strong Initiative to send US students to study in China.

"If she wants to contain China, she wouldn't have done any of these things," Li said.

Li described Clinton's views on human rights and women's rights in China as a reflection of her values.

In Li's view, Bill Clinton will be a positive influence on Hillary Clinton's China policy. "Many Chinese like Bill Clinton," he said.

Li also noted that Chinese traditionally tend to like Republicans more than Democrats because Republicans are more likely to be businesspeople.

Trump also has touted China's progress in infrastructure and described the US as looking like a Third World country in comparison.

While Trump's rise as a Republican presidential candidate from a year ago has surprised many Americans, it has sparked huge interest among Chinese about a presidential campaign characterized by strong anti-establishment sentiment.

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