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5 reasons Donald Trump is a hit with Chinese in China
By Juwai, 07 November 2017
US President Donald Trump is currently on his maiden Presidential trip to Asia, and is set to visit China on 8 November 2017.
With all eyes focused on his Asian tour, it will be Trump’s upcoming visit to China that is slated to dominate the headlines for its meaning for the US-China relationship. Still, it’s how Trump is perceived by Chinese that is most interesting.
Why does Trump fascinate so many Chinese?
Love him or hate him, it’s undeniable that Trump is one of the most followed public figures in the world.1
With 41 million following the @realDonaldTrump personal account2, President Donald Trump recently surpassed Pope Francis’ 39.5 million followers to be the most followed world leader on Twitter.1
Strangely enough, although Trump was extremely vocal on his tirades about China during his election campaign, Trump still enjoys a large amount of popularity in China rather than being persona non grata there.
We examine why so many Chinese still think Trump – hailed online as ‘Emperor Trump’ by some Chinese netizens3 – could be the ‘best US President for China’4, and break it down to 5 reasons below.
#1 Unconventional style
Trump attracted attention in China throughout his US election campaign not just for his fiery trade rhetoric, but also for his idiosyncratic political style that – for many in mainland China – is world’s away from the stable, unflappable demeanour of China’s top leaders.
According to several fans interviewed by the South China Morning Post in Beijing, Trump’s outspoken bluntness is perceived by Chinese to be a blatant ‘honesty’ that comes from the fact that Trump is no politician.5
The fact that Trump is seen more as a pragmatic billionaire rather than an inexperienced politician also works in his favour, as many Chinese see Trump as a ‘pure businessman’, and thus is envisaged by mainland Chinese to be more practical and flexible because he betters understands how to make deals and compromise.5
Even with his hawkish stance and tough policies on China, many Chinese appreciate his style as they consider Trump to be defending the national interest of the US, thus garnering their respect for his nationalism.3
Trump won even more fans in China for his ambitious goals, with his plans to ‘Make America Great Again’ echoing the calls for national rejuvenation in common with Xi Jinping’s ‘China Dream’.3
Additionally, the fact that Trump built his own empire (albeit with the help of a $1 million loan from his father)4 rather than squander his inherited wealth has led a number of Chinese to consider him as an ambitious and successful ‘Fu Er Dai’ – a term in China which generally refers to the second generation who inherit wealth from their rich parents on a negative note.6, 7
For a country that has strived for economic development for the last three decades, and where its people often equate wealth with economic success, Trump’s ambitions have definitely struck a chord with many Chinese.
#3 Entertainment value
The Chinese interest in Trump also lies in his keen disregard for political correctness, now counted as unmissable political entertainment for many Chinese netizens.
In fact, chat groups and fan clubs, titled ‘Donald Trump Super Fans Club’ and ‘God Emperor Trump’, have cropped up on WeChat for followers to exchange their views and enthusiasm over everything Trump.4, 8
#4 The ‘Ivanka’ factor
Aside from ‘The Donald,’ his family are a hit in China too, and none more so than his daughter Ivanka Trump.
According to a recent New York Times feature, Ivanka Trump is admired in China as a ‘goddess’ not just for her elegance and beauty, but also for her brains and independence to launch her own career, as well as having a beautiful family with her husband, Jared Kushner.5, 8, 9
Having her daughter, Arabella, learn Mandarin and celebrate the Chinese New Year also scored Ivanka brownie points in China5 – a video of Arabella singing in Mandarin to Chinese President Xi Jinping and wife during their US visit in April became a big hit that went viral in China with tens of millions views.9
As a couple, Ivanka and Jared have also earned countless ‘Javanka’ fans in China, who hail them as a role model power couple for their motivation and drive.10 In fact, many ‘Javanka’ fans were reportedly disappointed that their highly-anticpated China visit was cancelled at the last minute.11
What’s more, Ivanka is seen by some in China as an epitome of the Confucian values of filial piety and family devotion, thanks to her steadfast support and defense of her father, as well as her conversion to Judaism for her husband.9
#5 Real estate success
However, a large reason behind Trump’s popularity in China is for what he and the Trump brand represent – the fulfillment of the American Dream through savvy investments and success in real estate trading, and this resonates strongly with Chinese.
With fewer investment options than in the US and Europe, Chinese see real estate as one of the main routes to business and financial success, and Chinese take great delight in riding the waves of the domestic market to pave their way to wealth and happiness.
With more and more Chinese looking overseas for real estate investments, especially among China's fast-growing HNW population, Trump’s ability to build a multi-million dollar empire through investing in the US market strikes a strong chord with mainland investors because he is a golden, tanned reminder of what is possible.
With Trump raising his profile in China, and the US long dominating as the #1 investment destination for Chinese buyers, it’s likely this could trigger an additional surge of interest in US properties from Chinese buyers keen to grab a piece of the Trump lifestyle.
Sources: 1. Politico: Trump now Twitter’s most followed world leader; 2. Mashable: People freaked out as Trump’s Twitter follower count dropped to only 4,000; 3. The Diplomat: Why do Chinese netizens love Donald Trump?; 4. Fortune: Donald Trump is oddly popular in China; 5. SCMP: What do Chinese people really think about Donald Trump?; 6. The Week: How Donald Trump built his business empire; 7. CNBC: Why some Chinese like Donald Trump; 8. Fortune: Why is Donald Trump so popular in China; 9. The New York Times: The 'Goddess' Yi Wan Ka: Ivanka Trump is a hit in China; 10. The Telegraph: Ivanka Trump woos China; 11. The Guardian: China’s ‘Javana’ fanatics dismayed as first daughter cancels visit;
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