Shanghai Wonders Why Trump Victory Such a Shock
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2016-11-09 18:13:29

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.

Sixth Tone speaks to Shanghai residents about the 2016 U.S. president election. By Wu Yue, Wang Lianzhang, Li You and Tan Xiaoyi/Sixth Tone

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.”

Americans living in China were nonetheless determined to vote.

Beginning in late September, the nonpartisan organization VoteFromAbroad.org 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.

(Header image: People react as they watch polling numbers come in for the American presidential election at an event organized by the US consulate in Shanghai, Nov. 9, 2016. Johannes Eisele/AFP/VCG)