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Daily Drip

How are Young Chinese People Reacting to the 2020 US Election?

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You don’t need us to tell you that the 2020 US presidential election has been a pretty close-run thing. As results streamed in during the day China time on Wednesday 4 — and then on into Thursday 5 — there were a mixture of reactions from those in China “eating melon” (a popular slang term similar to *grabs popcorn*) as events unfolded.

US election-related hashtags on microblogging site Weibo have racked up hundreds of millions of views as observers on the platform pick over the results. A highly-upvoted comment under one related post offered a possible solution to the presidential impasse: “Monday/Wednesday/Friday Biden, Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday Trump, how about let’s golfing together on Sunday?” 

While some Chinese citizens have been angered by the inconsistency and unpredictability of Trump’s White House in its attitudes towards China, some have celebrated the 45th president of the United States for what they see as accelerating the decline of the country and the ascendancy of China. Related memes have therefore been doing the rounds as the former Apprentice judge’s political future hangs in the balance. 

trump propaganda

An old Chinese Trump meme placing him in a classic propaganda poster

Some netizens commonly refer to Trump via the nickname Chuan Jianguo 川建国, which means “Trump Build Up the Country,” a reference to their view that his presidency has actually worked to Beijing’s advantage.

“I think Trump is quite funny,” says Allen Jiang, a 26 year-old based in Shanghai, who adds that he has little knowledge about US politics. “One is an authentic petty man, and the other is a fake straight arrow,” he says of Trump and Biden. “Which one would you choose?” 

“Biden might win. I just hope whoever is elected can be friendly to China,” Olivia Xu, a 31 year-old based in the coastal city of Ningbo, told us on election day. “We are all humans, why the attitude?” she added.

Jiahui Zhang, 27 year-old Chinese citizen currently based in California, echoed such sentiments. “I think Biden will win,” she says. “Can you imagine finally having a president that understands science? Trump was incapable of containing the virus and has been playing the blame game. Also I hope Biden will have a more logical immigration policy.”

Related:

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However, Chinese authorities remain wary of a Biden presidency. Zhou Xiaoming, a former Chinese trade negotiator was recently quoted in an interview that, “If Biden is elected, I think this could be more dangerous for China, because he will work with allies to target China, whereas Trump is destroying US alliances.”

With the election seemingly still in the balance, many on the Chinese internet continues to pay attention to events on the other side of the Pacific, even as many users seem resigned to a further deterioration of relations between China and the US, whoever ends up taking the presidency.

Siyuan Meng
    Born and raised in Shaoxing, Siyuan lived in New York and Los Angeles prior to Shanghai. If she is not at work, she is probably at an art museum, a gym, a Mom-and-Pop restaurant or a park. She likes reading books or playing the piano on rainy days. She thinks she takes great photos.