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Could Donald Be China's Trump Card?

A Trump victory in November would be favourable for the Chinese government for a number of reasons.

20/05/2016 10:27 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:52 PM AEST
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Reuters
In China, there is even pockets of personal admiration for Trump.

China has featured prominently in Donald Trump's campaign.

He claims China is 'raping' the United States and that its island-building in the South China Sea shows that it disrespects America. Trump directs these statements to the Obama administration, which he regards as weak and incompetent, and so far, Beijing seems mostly undisturbed.

A Trump victory in November would be favourable for the Chinese government for a number of reasons.

He has a benign view of Russia, China's ally on North Korean and Middle-East policy. China also has Russia's back in the South China Sea.

Surprisingly, Trump also shows his displeasure with Japan over trade issues. In particular, Trump considers withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is seen by many as excluding China.

And his background as a successful businessman embodies China's expectation of the Reform and Opening policies kicked off in the early 1980s, by Deng Xiaoping, a Chinese former leader known as the country's father of modernisation. Deng Xiaoping departed from the class-struggle ideology of his predecessor by advising, Trump-like, that "to get rich is glorious".

In China, there is even pockets of personal admiration for Trump. This is not the case for Hillary Clinton.

The front-runner for Democratic presidential nomination has a long record of deep concern over China's core issues and this is considered as interfering with China's domestic issues and harming its international image.

As far back as 1995, the then-First Lady addressed a special session of the UN Fourth World Congress on Women in Beijing. "Human rights are women's rights, and women's rights are human rights" said Clinton. Last year, she directly criticized President Xi Jinping over the "persecution of the feminist", calling him 'shameless' for co-hosting a summit on human rights with the UN.

At the ASEAN Regional Forum in Hanoi in 2010, Clinton as US Secretary of State said freedom of navigation in the South China Sea is in the United States' 'national interest'.

Beijing regarded this as a bitter attack against China, while a recent report on the South China Sea authored by a top diplomat and a prominent scholar depicts Hillary Clinton as a source of raised tension in the South China Sea.

Trump, meanwhile, comments on China's policy impact on the domestic US landscape.

People in China -- in some sense at least -- can relate more to him because of his business background and his economic vision. His rally cry of "Making America great again" is not seen as a zero sum game -- at least not yet.

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