China is quite possibly Donald Trump’s favorite campaign-trail target.
Earlier this month, the presumptive Republican nominee went as far as describing China’s trade relationship with the U.S. as “rape” and has repeatedly said China is stealing U.S. jobs.
Given talk like that, you might be surprised to find fans of Trump in China. But they exist, in small, but growing numbers.
Gu Yu, a young technology entrepreneur, likes his blunt, no-punches-held approach.
“I think Donald Trump has the guts to say things that normal people in the rest of society fear to say,” said Gu.
He says he is 100% supportive of Trump, and even though he can’t cast a ballot, he says the Americans that can should trust Trump.
“I think political correctness covers up problems instead of solving them,” said Gu.
Growing number of fans
He’s part of a small but vocal group of Chinese fans of the presumptive GOP nominee. Online they have formed small groups on Chinese social media site Weibo, with names like “Donald J Trump Superfans Nation.”
One social media user wrote, “Hillary Clinton just makes empty promises, while Trump is the King of doing what he says.”
Another calls him “honest, sharp, pragmatic, and stylish.” One person even said they’d vote for him because he is “so handsome.”
Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner, fares less well.
One often quoted comment from Chinese social media platform Weibo recalls her husband’s public infidelity: “If she can’t manage her husband, how can she manage America?”
And Sima Nan, a television pundit sometimes described as China’s Bill O’Reilly, openly calls her a “crazy old woman.”
When it comes to Trump, the opinions of fans like Gu aren’t always shared by China’s state media.
In March, the state-run newspaper The Global Times called Trump a “rich narcissist, and a clown” and said “the rise of a racist … worries the whole world.”
However, an online poll by the same paper did suggest that 54% of Chinese would vote in favor of the U.S. billionaire.
China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, when recently asked about Trump’s candidacy, urged people to take a rational and objective view of the relationship between the two countries.
Gu dismisses Trump’s anti-China rhetoric as political theater, and says he’ll tone it down should he be elected.
“I think normal people will be like goldfish and have three-second memories,” said Gu. “Three months after the election, no one will remember that.”
China’s familiarity with Trump grew during his run as the host of “The Apprentice”, the U.S. reality show popular with Chinese audiences.
A Chinese translation of Trump’s best-selling memoir and business manual “The Art of the Deal” can be found in bookstores across Beijing. His success as a businessman no doubt heightens his appeal as a politician.
Trump Consulting is one of several companies in China that have gone as far as naming their businesses after Trump.
It is a Chinese real estate firm and its website proudly boasts the origins of its name.
Ironically, the businesses owner, Ding Shi, told the reporter that he doesn’t like Trump the politician at all, though does admire his business prowess.
“Donald Trump is a political clown,” said Ding. “But I wouldn’t change my company name for that. He’s a real estate tycoon after all.”