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What Do Millennials in China Think of Trump?

Edward Duo, an international student in Seattle, returns home to find out.

January 12, 2017

I recently graduated from Seattle University as an international student from Ningxia, China. As I was visiting my family back in China during the holidays, I was curious to hear what Chinese millennials think of the recent election and the U.S. President-elect, so I took the opportunity to find out.

I reached out to a local WeChat online group (a widely used Chinese social media platform) to see if I could get someone to talk to me. Unfortunately, due to some of the topics we discussed that many consider to be too sensitive to publish in the current political environment, none of the people I talked to wanted to be taped and all of them asked me not to use their  real names in this article. 

Donald Trump’s autobiography is placed next to Vladamir Putin’s autobiography in the Xinhua bookstore in Ningxia, China. Photo credit: Edward Duo

Hot topic: trade wars

Trade war was one of the topics brought up the most during my conversations with Chinese millennials. Ever since Donald Trump said that he would declare China as currency manipulator once he takes office, every major news website in China has reported that a potential trade war may break out between China and America.

China released a statement saying that “for the best of China and America, we should try to work together.”

Johnny*, age 24, is starting up his own trading company in Yinchuan, China. His primary clients are Americans. Johnny says that if a trade war breaks out between China and America, startup companies like his will have a hard time surviving.

“It will damage both China and America because they are two major gears in the big, global economic system. America and China are just like two brothers; they can’t stay with each other for too long, but they will miss each other when they are separated,” he says. 

“I think he is kind of funny,” says Jeremy*, a 23-year-old Chinese lawyer in Beijing, when asked about his first impression of President-elect Donald Trump. He was not surprised by Trump’s harsh comments about China because he thinks America will not be friendly to China no matter who is the president.

 

An article published on a primary Chinese news website, Huanqiu.com, highlights the tension between China and America . The title reads: “A trade war may start between China and the U.S. once Donald Trump officially becomes the president.”

DK*, age 25, has positive expectations for Donald Trump’s presidency. DK works for an investment company in Yinchuan, China. He closely followes all of the military news between China and America in his spare time. He says that he does not like the Democratic Party, but he doesn’t support Republican ideas, either. He identifies himself as a conservative from the position of a Chinese citizen. He says he can always feel the pressure whenever he talks about politics.

“As a successful businessman, I think he (Trump) will be practical and realistic and always prioritize America’s benefit,” he says.  

In terms of China-U.S. relations, DK  feels that America was already aggressive towards China during Obama’s presidency and doesn’t expect that it will get any worse than that. He acknowledges the risk of a war between China and America due to Trump’s reckless comments. Nevertheless, he says, those are mere words without action; he is waiting to see what Trump does once he moves into the White House.

From the top: Tweets sent by President-elect Donald Trump in Nov., 2012. The middle and bottom tweets were sent in Dec., 2016.

Nero* is a friend of mine from Beijing, China. We’ve known each other since 2011. He is studying Architecture at the University of Minnesota. Nero was still living in the U.S. when I spoke with him. 

Nero says that he and his friends were terrified after Election Day. As a Chinese international student, he is grappling with the decision of whether or not to stay in the U.S. after graduation. He will graduate in December, 2017. 

“It’s hard to say how Trump’s presidency will affect us in terms of seeking opportunities in the U.S., but I am not very optimistic about it,” he says.  

He says he now must rethink his future in the U.S., as both a Chinese citizen and a person of color.

A local park in Ningxia, China is decorated for the new year. This year celebrates the year of the Rooster. Photo credit: Edward Duo.

As an international student myself, I identify with Nero. I respect the diversity, inclusiveness and freedom that America has to offer me — it’s the reason why I wanted to study here in the first place.

Before this election, I felt like I might have a chance at living in a place where people would appreciate my differences as a Chinese-Muslim student. I am not so sure about that anymore. As a result of strict censorship, I didn’t have access to the previous U.S. election debates in my country, so this election was my first, close look at the entire electoral process.

Before this election, I felt like I might have a chance at living in a place where people would appreciate my differences as a Chinese-Muslim student. I am not so sure about that anymore.

I wanted to see a good example of American values. Yet, somehow it felt like watching a reality TV show. The terrifying part, for me, was that it seemed like a lot of people supported the negative behaviors and ideas trumpeted from the podium.

Through social media, protest marches and community organizing, millions of Americans have begun to voice their opposition to the negativity, which gives me hope. However, I am less likely to remain in the U.S. because of Donald Trump’s presidency. His anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-Chinese stances have put me in a difficult position.

As a filmmaker, strict Chinese media censorship drove me to seek freedom in creating my art in the U.S. I now have to face a choice: go back to China and work under the strict censorship of the Chinese political system, or stay in America and face an uncertain future.

I have to make my choice in few months; I just hope that day does not come too quickly.

Editor’s note: *Names have been changed to protect the subjects’ identities.


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Edward Duo

Edward Duo is graduated from Seattle University with a film degree and a theater performance minor. He is from China and currently works as a freelance filmmaker and photographer in Seattle. He moved to the U.S. five years ago. He believes film is the best way to communicate with people from different cultural background.

Fun Fact: The only reason he keeps his Facebook account is to share cute cat and dog pictures.

More stories by Edward Duo

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I appreciate you making this perspective accessible. I am uneasy about the future as well. I hope that you will remain, continue your work, and see it through with us!

good article, thank you 

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