‘Thanks Mr Trump’: state media mocks US president for helping make China great again
Broadcaster’s English-language video listed all the ways Donald Trump’s trade war has helped China improve itself
China’s biggest state broadcaster has produced a short, satirical video mocking the US president that opens with the line: “Thanks Mr Trump, you are GREAT!”
The English-language footage, which was uploaded on YouTube on Monday night, takes the form of a letter to Donald Trump that thanks him for all the things he has done for China, and highlights many of the country’s concerns in the ongoing trade dispute.
The film by China Global Television Network (CGTN) sarcastically thanks Trump for helping the rest of the world to “bond” and galvanising China into making economic reforms that helped it lure major foreign investors such as Tesla.
It is one of the few occasions that state media has personally targeted the US president since the start of the trade war, with most reports taking a less confrontational tone.
The footage, released before Trump was embroiled in the latest controversy concerning the guilty plea of his personal lawyer Michael Cohen and conviction of former campaign chief Paul Manafort, appears designed to promote China’s cause before the latest round of US tariffs are expected to take place on Thursday.
“Dear Mr Trump, Thank you for the shock therapy about how far apart China and the US are and why it’s imperative they get on the same page,” the letter, read out by CGTN business anchor Cheng Lei, says.
“Thank you for re-instilling in the Chinese a sense of HUMILITY. How can there be enough gratitude for highlighting the foibles of overconfidence and self-congratulation, never a virtue except in your case,” Cheng, a former reporter for the US CNBC network, continues.
The letter covers a number of issues the trade war has brought into focus and explains how China has benefited from the situation.
At one point it even argues that China’s retaliatory tariffs on US food and drink imports will help improve the nation’s health, saying: “On behalf of doctors, thank you for pointing out the need to wean off American goods like bourbon and bacon.”
Cheng expressed “agreement” with Trump’s stance that the “WTO needs reform”, and went on to thank the US government for reports that spelt out “China’s shortcomings” that had helped it to make “tough reforms” that helped bring in new investors, adding: “Hello, Tesla.”
Last month the US electric car maker announced plans to build a new plant in Shanghai, the first in China that will be wholly owned by a foreign company.
The video was apparently removed from CGTN’s official YouTube and Twitter accounts on Wednesday. The timing of the removal is notable, as it comes hours before Chinese and US representatives are to sit down in Washington to discuss the trade war.
On Tuesday, the Chinese foreign ministry said in a press conference: “But you should know that China does not like to issue statements ahead of negotiations. Rather, China hopes that both sides are able to sit down peacefully and earnestly and negotiate good results upon a foundation of equity, equality, and sincerity.”
CGTN, which is broadcast in more than 100 countries from the US to Kenya, is an offshoot of the state broadcaster CCTV.
It was rebranded in 2016 as a news channel designed to cater to a foreign audience’s tastes.
It is also active on Western social media platforms – including Facebook as well as Twitter and YouTube – all of which are banned in China.
CGTN is part of a growing arm of state media designed to “tell China stories” as it make a global push to improve its soft power.
In June it started recruiting more than 350 journalists ahead for its first European hub, which will open in London later this year.
The Chinese state media outlet offered its own take on media ethics in the letter to Trump.
“Most of all, thank you for discrediting news media at large, so we need to be doubly sure that we’re not producing fake news. You are GREAT!” Cheng said, signing off the letter with her “love”.
Additional reporting by Owen Churchill.