What do Chinese people think of Donald Trump’s visit?
The US president’s first visit to China seemed like a grand affair, but the people of Beijing reckon it was really more about fundamentals
US President Donald Trump’s visit to Beijing may have given his counterpart Xi Jinping an opportunity to demonstrate China’s rise, but ordinary people are taking a more sober view of the great power dynamics.
To many ordinary Chinese people, Trump may be an extraordinary figure, but they are well aware that he has to be pragmatic and needs help from China in reviving the US economy.
Li Haitian, a project manager at an international architecture firm, said Trump’s China trip was needed to boost the US economy.
“American society is in decline … and only by working with China can they achieve economic growth. That’s why Trump needs to bring the money and deals back to the US to prove that he is able to deliver results to his people,” she said.
Li went on to say that Trump’s lavish reception in Beijing and the seemingly warm relations between the two world leaders did not change the real nature of Sino-US relations.
“Whether he genuinely respects China or not is not important because business is business. [His visit] is for both leaders to show the world that the Sino-US relations are good and that Trump respects us. But we should not take it too seriously,” she said.
Leslie Lu, 44, a manager at a British law firm, said Trump’s background as a businessman had made it easier for him to work with China.
“He is successful businessman … and more pragmatic, and so it is easier for the two sides to discuss cooperation,” she said.
“Trump was aware of the sluggish economy in the US during the election, and American people had complained a lot about the unbalanced trade between China and the US.
“So Trump just followed the people’s voice. I think Trump is very clear about what to say and what to do,” she said.
Fan Zhibin, a lawyer working in Beijing, said China still lags far behind the US, even though The Economist described Xi as “the world’s most powerful man” – a title usually reserved for a US president. The magazine argued that Xi had more clout than Trump both at home and abroad.
“In terms of overall capabilities, the gap is still there. We still lag far behind in terms of our overall and per capita GDP and development in technology,” Fan said.
“The West may not be used to China’s rapid rise, but I don’t think China will be able to surpass the US in the near future.”
Yang Wenlong, 37, a marketing director at an investment firm, said a more inward looking US may be bad for the world, but China would be one of the biggest beneficiaries.
“It may not be a good thing because the US has a huge influence in the world. But in the long term, it will give China many opportunities to have a bigger say in the world,” he said.
“I think Trump is more realistic. He can see things from the perspective of ordinary American people when considering their problems.”