If the US presidential race were a TV drama, Hillary Clinton would surely win

Jiang Xun says with Sino-US relations at stake, however, Chinese people watching the election must do more than just enjoy the entertainment – China has to be ready for whoever becomes leader

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 November, 2016, 5:37pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 November, 2016, 9:27am

A friend from Shanghai and I recently discussed the presidential election in the United States. My friend, a university professor and noted film critic, said she knew nothing about politics, but what she said about it was spot on. She did not think either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump would bring hope to their country as president, but believed Clinton would win the race, going by a trend in US television drama shows. American television shows are the country’s most influential mass media, she said.

She pointed out that US dramas aired since the turn of the millennium have been “paving the way” for Clinton to become president. The women on TV have become more and more powerful, she said. There was Commander in Chief (2005), which featured a woman president, while 24: Redemption (2008), also featured a woman president. Then there are the currently running Veep, with Julia Louis-Dreyfus in the role of the titular vice-president; Madam Secretary, about a woman secretary of state; House of Cards, which features a congressman’s wife with ambitions for the White House; and, of course, the Queen of Dragons in the Game of Thrones.

Why Hillary Clinton is a bigger concern for China than Donald Trump

Chinese people generally don’t like Clinton. The perception is she has never been friendly towards China; nothing she has ever said or done has pleased the Chinese people. She is seen as an “old witch”, and makes the Chinese uncomfortable. Not only did she champion the US “pivot” to the Asia-Pacific, she has also repeatedly called China a threat, which has angered the Chinese people.

As for the other presidential hopeful, Donald Trump of the Republican Party, people in China think he is an oddball, a big mouth, and a dark horse in the race. Trump was not a hotly tipped candidate from the outset, but he is now in the final round of the contest. This so-called “Trump phenomenon” has drawn global attention.

Why Trump carries less baggage in China: survey reveals candidate’s surprising popularity

A big question that concerns us all is: if Trump wins, how would it affect the world? It is well known that he represents the most rebellious and the isolated groups in his country, who are concerned only about their own interests.

Of course, people in China cannot vote in the election. What they can do is to prepare themselves for whatever may come: no matter how the US provokes China in the future, we must rise to the challenge, rather than endure it, as in the past.

The truth about the Sino-US relationship is that both would gain from working together, and both would lose out in any fight. This is the objective reality that cannot be changed, even in the future. How to handle this relationship will be a major test of the wisdom and abilities of the next president of the United States, whoever it may be. Chinese people understand this well, so they hope that the winner of this election will be one who takes the relationship seriously and is friendly to China.

Many Chinese regard the US election as entertainment. But more important than sitting back and enjoying the show, China must first get its own house in order. It must gain real strength before it can win the respect of the American people. Power is everything – that’s the time-tested truth.

Jiang Xun is deputy editor-in-chief of Yazhou Zhoukan, and editor-in-chief of Zero New Media. This is translated from the Chinese