President-elect Donald Trump's election win has prompted widespread cheer in China, under the belief the candidate is the best choice for the Chinese government.
Chinese Communist Party linked-tabloid The Global Times reported that the election of “blowhard” Trump shows how poorly democracy works as a system of government, making China’s authoritarian rule look stable by contrast, reports Time magazine.
“It’s a total gift to Chinese propaganda,” says Paul Haenle, director of the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy in Beijing.
Support for Trump from the Chinese Communist Party extends beyond the public appeal of the failure of democracy, and was also boosted by Trump’s isolationist policies and ambivalence towards Chinese affairs.
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Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has paid attention to human rights violations in the country since 1995, when she publicly objected to the Communist Party at the U.N. Women’s Conference in Beijing.
Clinton received additional scrutiny from the Chinese government during her run as secretary of state, when she worked to navigate the U.S. “pivot” to Asia aimed at strengthening engagement with China’s military sphere.
Trump, by contrast, expressed an unwillingness to criticize China’s foreign policy in his campaign, specifically in militant operations in the South China Sea, the Independent reports. He also shows little interest in the country's human rights violations. The New York businessman went as far as to applaud China’s 1989 massacre of Tiananmen Square democracy protesters during his campaign, another “win” for Chinese propaganda.
“The Chinese like that Trump talks about America growing inward, that the U.S. is overreached in the Middle East, that he’s ripping up [Trans-Pacific Partnership], that he’s not paying much attention in Asia,” says Haenle. “Trump says 'We need to pull back.' All that sounds great to the Chinese.”
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But a Trump administration may not serve all of China's interests. The businessman’s publicly held belief that China’s trade policies with America are “the greatest theft in the history of the world” could prove detrimental to China, which has historically benefited from free markets, according to NPR.
“Trump’s victory has a direct impact on our trade relationship,” says Shen Minggao, an economist at the Caixin think-tank. “Brexit and Trump’s win show a clear trend of de-globalization and Trump’s election will serve as a huge blow to China’s economy.”
But China has less reason to worry about Trump’s previously held beliefs, and more concern for his actions moving forward. Chinese officials report they see Trump as an inconsistent political entity whose actions are largely unpredictable.
“Even though they like that America is probably going to be pulling back from Asia, [the Chinese] also don’t like surprises,” says Haenle. “Trump is not predictable.”
The problem analysts face is they have little information to go on in regard to Trump’s policy, as the president-elect has never held political office. Any predictions made regarding a Trump presidency are based primarily on writings from campaign advisers, most of whom have never met Trump in person.
"This scenario is still subject to considerable uncertainty," said Sarah Boumphrey of Euromonitor International, according to The Associated Press. "Republicans will control both houses [of Congress], which would ordinarily make for more certainty, but it is unclear how many of his policies the party will support."
"What [Trump] said during the campaign, that's not government policy," said James Zimmerman, the American Chamber of Commerce in China's chairman. "Government policy really requires thoughtful discussion, dialogue and compromise."