Donald Trump, American businessman and the increasingly struggling front runner for the Republican nomination, can perhaps add yet another name to his convoluted list of supporters – the Chinese. This apparent support among Chinese, both on an elite level and a populist level, is in spite of the attacks that Trump has hurled at the Chinese -and can be viewed, in part, on Trump’s own campaign website.
Trump has accused China of, among other things, being a “currency manipulator,” this accusation being on account of their fixation of the value for their currency relative to American dollars. One aspect of China, which Trump has praised, is their Great Wall. This wall, which, in the present form, was built primarily in about the 15th Century, was built along the Northern border of China to help in protection of the inward parts of the mainland. This means that Trump is literally promoting 15th Century politics.
As for China’s reciprocation of the affection Trump has shown their aging military structures, such support is largely based on the same qualities for which he is so ridiculed in the United States, namely, his showboat personality.
According to James Mann, an analyst who specializes in US/China relations, a Trump presidency may be the most favored outcome in November on the part of the Chinese leadership in Beijing. Trump’s nationalist, perhaps dictatorial, tendencies are precisely what gives a big break to the Chinese, should he become President of the United States. Such administrations, with the personality of a single individual driving the policy direction, are the ones most familiar and manageable to the Chinese leaders who, in many ways, fulfill those qualities in their own governing.
Trump’s violently flagrant personality also pays off in support among the Chinese population, with an obsession on the part of some Chinese being on account of Trump’s status as “more than a politician,” but, also an entertainer. Trump’s reality television show, The Apprentice, is very popular among Chinese viewers. The importance of being popular with foreign television viewers can not be overstated- it is not just an importance of absolutely zero by definition, but in fact, may be negative.
China has less stable support, according to analysts like Mann, for a potential Clinton presidency. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is viewed by many Chinese as – well – former Secretary of State, and they do not like that status. A play-by-the-rules-as-they-are administration is not what the Chinese would like to come from the United States after this November, since, according to Mann, “lawyer-y” leaders are not the best for Chinese to work with. They prefer showboats like Trump.
Trump’s support among the Chinese is not unique among foreign leaders. He also has the expressed admiration of Russian President Vladimir Putin, publicly discussed last December. Italians seem to worry quite desperately about the possibility of a Trump presidency, seeing similarities to their own debacle of a leader Silvio Berlusconi, and the President of Mexico was perhaps the most direct, drawing direct comparisons between Trump and the leaders of both Nazi Germany and its contemporary, Fascist Italy.