US ELECTIONS

Trump’s fans in China are sticking with him despite lewd remarks

Some internet users view controversial Republican nominee as their ‘missing spokesman’

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 October, 2016, 8:02am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 October, 2016, 9:25pm

While senior Republican figures in the US have withdrawn endorsements of presidential candidate Donald Trump over his lewd remarks about women, his Chinese fans on the other side of the Pacific are sticking with him.

Support for the controversial candidate has become an internet phenomenon in China, with numerous social media accounts dedicated to the latest campaign developments. His fans form groups, monitor foreign websites, repost items of interest and also write their own opinion pieces.

Trump has charisma for a certain section of the populace
Professor Shi Yinhong, Renmin University

The founder of one online community, a weibo social media account with nearly 55,000 followers that is called Great American Human Rights Observation, played down the scandal.

“Trump is a handsomely aggressive alpha male,” he said jokingly, while requesting anonymity.

Another Trump fan, James Pan, said Trump’s remarks were wrong, but “everybody says wrong things in private”.

He said the Western media’s moral crusade against Trump reminded him of the literary inquisitions in ancient China and the Cultural Revolution.

“Trump only said some offensive words and the media are ganging up against him, whereas Hilary compromised their national interests and the media just ignored it,” Pan said.

Trump’s successful reality television shows and real estate business, extravagant lifestyle and glamourous wife and daughter are all mentioned as part of his attractiveness, but his “politically incorrect” remarks seem to be the biggest draw.

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“He says whatever he wants and never cares about political correctness. But he does often tell blunt truths and speak to the common people’s heart,” said the founder of Great American Human Rights Observation. “I did not follow the election until January or February this year, when I first heard Trump’s idea of building a wall on the border, which was very funny, but then I gradually realised some of his ideas are actually quite reasonable.”

An anonymous internet user on the popular Q&A site zhihu.com wrote that, like Trump supporters in the United States, many Chinese also favoured policies that put locals first and Trump had become their “missing spokesman”.

Twenty-something Pan, who has translated a number of Trump speeches into Chinese, said that by posing as an outsider of politics, challenging the Washington establishment and advocating grass-roots concerns, Trump had some of the “revolutionary” traits that could be seen “in the early Chinese communist leaders”.

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He said that if Trump campaigned for China’s presidency he would easily win majority support.

Professor Shi Yinhong, director of the Centre for American Studies at Beijing’s Renmin University, said: “The likings of people in China are not much different from those in the US. Trump has charisma for a certain section of the populace.”

Although Trump has pledged a trade war against China, his fans in the “currency manipulator” he accuses of stealing American jobs view such comments as a campaign tactic and doubt the self-professed dealmaker would be so tough if elected.

One supporter, Tony Liang, said Trump was a pragmatist and that won him fans in China.

“As a businessman, Trump has fully demonstrated the pragmatism that lies deep within the Chinese mind,” he said.

Chinese fans are, however, divided about whether a Trump presidency would be able to “Make America Great Again”.

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Junius Lu, a video designer, said China wanted and needed a strong US in a stable world for the sake of its own development.

“Our generation, born in 1980s, more or less shares a feeling for the US, that it is how a strong country should be and what we should learn from,” Lu said.