Shanghai Wonders Why Trump Victory Was Such a Shock

Shanghai Wonders Why Trump Victory Was Such a Shock
Photo Credit:Reuters/達志影像

What you need to know

As Americans bemoan and celebrate their new commander in chief, many Chinese aren’t surprised by the outcome.

After one of the most polarizing presidential elections in recent history, Sixth Tone spoke with people on the streets of Shanghai about the reality of a Donald Trump presidency.

“Trump will be a little better,” said one man when asked about the two main candidates. “Hillary is too duplicitous — she says one thing in public and another in private.”

Others reporters spoke to said a Trump presidency “will shut up a few feminists” and “won’t bring about World War Three” the way a second Clinton administration might.

To many Chinese, the issues that separate Trump and Clinton are ones that hit close to home, such as ideology. “Is Trump for or against the Communist Party?” asked one woman. “As long as they’re good for China, I’d vote for them.”

To others, macro issues such as commerce and foreign policy are more pressing concerns. “I think Trump being elected will stimulate global trade and stoke Sino-American economic relations,” said one middle-aged man.

Trump’s background as a businessman and distance from establishment politics are central to his appeal in China, while Clinton is viewed with skepticism because of her political experience and willingness to stand up to authoritarian leaders.

In the lead-up to the election, Chinese media have watched the fireworks from a safe distance, reveling in the chaos with thinly veiled schadenfreude. An editorial in party tabloid Global Times, for example, asked Chinese citizens to take a long, hard look at “this so-called democracy” in the U.S.

Similarly, a commentary by state news agency Xinhua pointed to the election and its accompanying vitriol to argue that the American system is “by no means [an] exemplary democracy.”

Exemplary or not, though, Americans living in China were determined to exercise democracy’s core tenet.

Beginning in late September, the nonpartisan organization held registration events in Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu to help American expats do just that. By now, however, many of these same people are likely considering extending their stay overseas.

(The News Lens has been authorized to repost this article. The piece was first published on Sixth Tone here. Sixth Tone covers trending topics, in-depth features, and illuminating commentary from the perspectives of those most intimately involved in the issues affecting China today. It belongs to the state-funded Shanghai United Media Group.)

Editor: Olivia Yang