Donald Trump’s divisive and racist candidacy is no stranger to foreign leaders’ shock and horror (along with a little bit of admiration). But now the Chinese government, allegedly an enemy and target of future trade wars with the overly tanned troll doll, has commented on his candidacy, and it’s not good.
“Mussolini and Hitler came to power through elections, a heavy lesson for Western democracy,” said the Chinese state-owned Global Times. “Even if Trump is simply a false alarm, the impact has already left a dent. The US faces the prospect of an institutional failure, which might be triggered by a growing mass of real-life problems.”
China has often contrasted its own rapid growth, courtesy of an undemocratic government, vis-a-vis the problems it found inherent in democracy. Two weeks ago, another state-owned news organization, Xinhua, published another piece describing Trump’s candidacy as signaling the decline of American democracy. “The fact itself is a vivid proof of the malfunction of the U.S. democracy, as people would not choose a president who is responsible to lead the country, but to vent their grievance and anger over the reality on government and politicians,” said the publication. “The rise of Trump may also be a reflection of difficult economic recovery and the decline of the U.S. geopolitical power.”
But democracies everywhere are subject to Chinese criticism: Last year, Xinhua published a commentary piece which blamed India’s socioeconomic divides on its system of governance. “At best, China would have been another India, the world’s biggest democracy by Western standards, where around 20 percent of the world’s poorest live and whose democracy focuses on how power is divided.” The fact that China added over 200 million citizens to the middle class from 2001 to 2011 was presented as proof that they didn’t need democracy, anyway.
Unlike Europe’s far-right leaders and anti-democratic politicians, who fawn over Trump’s candidacy and rhetoric, the Chinese government has made it clear that he’s no a friend. And that’s even after he took, perhaps unwittingly (but probably not), the Chinese government’s line regarding the the bloody 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square. Using the same revisionist history employed by the Chinese state, Trump called the crackdown a “riot.”
Trump was a dream candidate for Chinese state-owned media looking to bash the inferiority of democracy and American international overreach. The increasing violence at his rallies, lack of policy substance, and the blatant militarism he’s espoused makes for an easy target, especially when Trump’s at the head of the Republican Party. “The US had better watch itself for not being a source of destructive forces against world peace, more than pointing fingers at other countries for their so-called nationalism and tyranny,” ended the Global Times editorial, its remarks clearly aimed at the recent American pivot to Asia.
Needless to say, Trump won’t take the blame for how anyone responds to his rhetoric, even if it comes from the most populous nation in the world. After inciting violence at his rallies for months, he managed to blame Bernie Sanders for calling up thousands of protesters, who eventually shut down his event, to the University of Illinois-Chicago. Trump has said that the protesters are in the wrong because they aren’t patriotic enough.
He can blame anyone he wants to blame, but the rest of the world, far removed from domestic American politics, sees only one thing: a political opportunist willing to say whatever he can to become president.
Photo: China’s President Xi Jinping (R) and China’s Premier Li Keqiang arrive at the opening session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing, China, March 5, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee