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What China Thinks Of Donald Trump

Donald Trump hates "losers" and he pretty clearly thinks there are too many of them in America.

"This country is in big trouble. We don't win anymore. We lose to China. We lose to everybody," the bellicose billionaire told a raucous audience at the first debate of the GOP Presidential primary on Thursday. 

While it wasn’t clear what specific "losses" Trump was referring to or even whether he could cite any meaningful examples if pressed, he’s correct to say that when it comes to China, the US has suffered some serious setbacks of late, not the least of which is Beijing’s successful membership drive for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. 

There’s no question that the bank’s very existence represents something of an economic coup in that it, along with the BRICS bank and to a lesser extent, the Silk Road Fund, are a response to the perceived inadequacies of the US-dominated multilateral institutions that have dominated the post-war world. But the more immediate and palpable "loss" (to use Trump-speak) came courtesy of The White House’s failed attempt to dissuade Washington’s allies from joining the bank. 

In addition to the AIIB, Beijing’s land reclamation efforts in disputed waters China shares with US allies in the region has also been portrayed by some analysts and commentators as evidence of America’s waning global influence. And then there are the standard arguments around trade and offshoring, to which Trump alluded on Thursday.  

So Trump’s characterization of the US as a "loser" when it comes to the country’s relationship with China is probably accurate, even as it lacks nuance and any semblance of serious analysis. And while we know what Trump thinks of China, what we don’t yet know is what China thinks of Trump, and although we’re reasonably sure that Trump could care less what the Politburo (let alone the Chinese people) have to say, The Washington Post has nevertheless endeavored to offer a bit of insight which we think is worth highlighting as Trump attempts to hold on to his lead in the GOP polls. Here’s WaPo’s Ana Swanson:

The Chinese are not exactly the only people that Donald Trump has insulted. But China is a favorite punching bag of Trump’s, a jumping-off point for the Republican presidential candidate to emphasize his tough-minded negotiating skills and criticize Obama for having a feeble foreign policy. ("I beat China all the time," Trump has said.)

 

In campaign speeches, Donald Trump has blamed China for stealing American jobs and breaking the rules. He has criticized China for currency manipulation and espionage, and proposed raising taxes on China "for each bad act" they commit. In July, he rebuked the White House for giving Chinese diplomats state dinners, saying they should be taken to McDonald’s instead.

 

The Chinese have begun taking notice. While most Chinese people still seem to be unaware of who Trump is, a growing number of people in the Chinese media and on social media are discussing the baffling political figure.

 

The Chinese foreign ministry also defended against Trump’s allegations that China is "ripping" the U.S. After Trump vowed to retake millions of jobs that China had stolen, Chinese media picked up on and translated criticisms of Trump's statement by Alan Blinder, the former Federal Reserve vice chairman and a Princeton University economist. "It’s completely implausible," Blinder had said of Trump’s plan.

 

Much of the reporting in the Chinese media has focused on explaining why America is entertaining Trump’s presidential aspirations.

 

In June, the Global Times, a mouthpiece of the Communist party, published an article titled:  “The theme of Trump’s speech for running for president: I am really very rich.”

 

Other articles focus on the reasons Trump might be running for president, besides a desire to win. Some have commented that his campaign is just an effort to get more publicity before going back to being a business tycoon.

 

Yicai.com, the Web site of China Business Network, a financial media group, ran an article that said: "One of the purposes of running for president is to promote oneself, to become more famous, like Trump. …  The nationwide exposure he gained is hard to measure in monetary terms."

Of course all of the above really fails to touch on the most pressing issue when it comes to Trump and on that note, we'll give the last word to an unnamed Chinese social media user quoted by WaPo:

"This guy's hair so strange. I thought it was Photoshopped at first."