How the world sees Donald Trump | The World Weekly
In the US, billionaire businessman Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has continued to ride high in spite of a buffeting from many parts of the country’s media. A recent Washington Post op-ed described him as unfit for the Oval Office and yesterday the contender announced he was boycotting Fox News, a major US broadcaster with a strong conservative stance. Another factor has been the increasing antipathy of other Republican candidates. During his withdrawal from the presidential, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker called on the remaining candidates to rally together against Mr. Trump, while Mr. Trump was also the target of several spikey exchanges during the party’s second televised debate.
The ‘Summer of Trump’, as it has been dubbed in the States, has been marked by his ascendency in the polls, dominance of the nation’s airwaves, and a series of provocative and confrontational statements that began in his nomination speech. Here among other apparently unscripted remarks, he pondered how the US had “become a dumping ground for everybody else's problems”, going on to tell his startled audience: “when Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're sending people that have lots of problems. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people”. He then went on to announce that one of his key policy objectives would be to build “a great wall on our southern border and have Mexico pay for that wall”.
Since then, Mr. Trump has captured headlines for questioning the war record of former US presidential candidate John McCain, saying that Mr. McCain, “was a war hero because he was captured, I like people who weren’t captured”, publicly releasing the phone number of fellow candidate Senator Lindsey Graham, repeatedly denigrating his opponents, forcibly ejecting a journalist from a news conference, apparently suggesting that the female news anchor who had pressed him over accusations of misogyny in the first televised Republican debate had been menstruating at the time, calling for the abolition of both corporation and inheritance tax, describing climate change as a “hoax”, arguing that the US should confront Islamic State by “bombing the hell” out of Iraq’s oil fields and suggesting that President Obama’s recent deal with Iran would require the US to defend the theocratic state in case of war: “So if Israel attacks Iran, according to that deal, I believe the way it reads… that we have to fight with Iran against Israel".
Mr. Trump took the lead in the polls for the Republican leadership within a week of declaring his nomination in mid-July and has held it ever since. In RealClearPolitics’ latest amalgamated poll, he attracted the support of 28.5% of those polled - a slight dip on the high watermark of over 30% he achieved on the eve of the second debate, but still nearly 10 points ahead of nearest rival, Seventh-day Adventist and brain surgeon Ben Carson with 18.8%. Establishment favourite Jeb Bush, the younger brother of former President George W. Bush, trails in a distant third place with just 7.8%. His divisiveness even among Republicans however is pronounced - 20% of Republican voters in a Quinnipiac University national poll, said his nomination would be unacceptable, more than any other candidate including Mr. Trump.
The pugnaciousness and range of Mr. Trump’s remarks and proposals has captured the attention not only of the US media, but commentators across the world. Here’s a flavour of what some of them are saying.
Unsurprisingly following his stereotyping of Mexican immigrants, Donald Trump is not particularly popular south of the border. While Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto took the high road following Mr. Trump’s inflammatory announcement speech, telling reporters that he did “not wish to be part of the game of someone who claims or aspires to a position of head of state”, and the world’s fourth richest man, Carlos Slim, cut his ties with Mr. Trump on a pending project for his television production studio Televisa without making a statement, others have been less reserved.
“I cannot imagine a person like the ‘good’ Donald in charge of one of the most important countries in the world,” wrote Luis Kaim Gebara for The News [Mexico] following the speech. “It seems like precisely the type of neighbour that you never want to have: annoying, irrational and one of those who leaves his dog’s waste in your yard.” He dismissed Mr. Trump’s prospects of winning the election. “The reason Trump is important,” Mr. Gebara argues, “is because it is good that some allies have taught him a lesson. He must learn that to mess with an entire nation will never bring anything good. On the other hand, to see him as a public enemy is laughable. It is difficult for a person of his ilk to be taken seriously, the ignorance and monetary excess is a dangerous bomb for anyone using it.”
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His sentiments are widely shared. In his Letter from Mexico for Politico, Jan-Albert Hootsen reported a booming trade of pinatas, the popular sweet containers traditionally broken open for celebrations and ceremonies, modelled on Mr. Trump. “I’ve sold something like 60 or 70 since I started making them, they’ve been doing very well,” Dalton Avalos, a 28-year-old piñata maker told him. “It’s a way of creatively expressing my anger over his racism and his hatred for Mexico and my people. But it’s also a way to make fun of him. And people love it.” Mr. Trump has become a popular target on satirical website El Deforma, the Mexican equivalent of The Onion and with politically aware artists like the band Los Tres Tristes Tigres who dedicated a corrido, a type of narrative song, to him, beginning “Normally we write songs for persons / not for impertinent dumbasses”.
How seriously Mr. Trump’s campaign should be taken is dividing some Mexican commentators. “I think most Mexicans know that it’s far too early to get too worked up over a character who has spent most of his life surrounded by cameras,” Jesús Esquivel, a correspondent for the Mexican news journal Proceso, told Mr. Hootsen. “We tend to react to these things with derision, it’s part of our culture. We’re the only country in the world where we make fun of death, perhaps because of our tragic history.”
Genaro Lorenzo, a columnist for Reforma, is less relaxed: “To be honest, I am beginning to feel a little uneasy. Many Mexicans did not think he would be able to compete in the primaries, and the fact that he’s still on top in the polls is starting to generate some concern. What worries me most is the kind of xenophobia that Trump’s comments generate in the United States. I lived and studied in the United States for five years, and I’ve seen prejudice and racism towards Mexicans and immigrants in general first-hand. Trump’s comments resonate so much, because they express the feelings of many Americans. His candidacy can make those stronger.”
Mr. Lorenzo’s anxiety chimes with that of many Latinos in the US, like Hector Tobar, the LA based journalist, who in a recent op-ed for the New York Times declared that Mr. Trump now “haunts the dreams of Latino children... a villain in a flaccid pompadour, spewing threats and insults that have filtered down into the bosom of many a Latino family, to be heard by children gathered by the television set or at the dinner table… When Mr. Trump takes to a stage and declares Mexican immigrants to be murderers, his rhetorical daggers strike at the collective Latino psyche. We’re offended, we’re wounded and we’re angry.”
Canadians, meanwhile, are more baffled than outraged by Mr. Trump’s popularity. “How does one explain presidential hopeful Donald Trump's surge to first place in a new GOP primary poll?” asked an editorial for Canada’s Financial Post in July. “It is a threat the GOP must take seriously. With his money and his bluster, Trump could potentially do what Texas billionaire Ross Perot did as an independent candidate in 1992: take millions of Republican votes, and tip the election to the Democrats. We're shaking our heads in vexation over Trump, but we can imagine Democrats' glee every time he opens his mouth.”
“How could such a buffoon become the top candidate to lead the party of Lincoln and Eisenhower into the next election for US president?” Marcus Gee of The Globe and Mail similarly wondered in his column of August 22, before alighting on an answer close at hand. “To plumb this mystery, the bewildered need look no further than mild, orderly Toronto. Donald Trump and Rob Ford [the disgraced former mayor of Toronto who admitted to smoking crack cocaine "probably in one of my drunken stupors"] have a lot in common. Both love to tell the world how fantastically successful they are… both claim that their success in business equips them to run a government… both are blunt to the point of rudeness, and beyond… both have landed in the soup for remarks about immigrants… both offer simplistic solutions to complex problems…. In spite of – in many ways, because of – all these faults, both men manage to get lots and lots of people to like and even adore them… The reasons are not really so mysterious. Most politicians these days are so programmed, so airbrushed, so slavishly on-message that a candidate who blurts out whatever comes into his head seems like a breath of fresh air, even if what he is saying is utter bilge… that aura of authenticity counts for something, whether the authenticity is truly authentic or not.”
It’s a recipe for governance Mr. Gee is not keen on. “It would be a terrible mistake if, perish the thought, Americans followed their anger into the dead end where this charmless blowhard would take them,” he wrote. “Just look at what happened in Toronto. Well before crack, Mr. Ford had revealed himself as a divisive, ill-informed mayor who governed by empty slogan. But it would be just as wrong to ignore what made Mr. Ford and Mr. Trump so appealing to so many voters in the first place. For them, the rants unleashed by these raging bulls against a privileged political class and overfed, inefficient governments ring true. In a plastic political world, they are desperate for something real.”
One Canadian who certainly hasn’t welcomed Mr. Trump’s candidacy is veteran rocker Neil Young, who complained publicly of the businessman’s use of his ‘Keep on Rockin in the Free World’ at his rallies. “Donald Trump's use of ‘Rockin' in the Free World’ was not authorised,” Neil Young’s manager told Mother Jones, clarifying that “Mr. Young is a longtime supporter of Bernie Sanders”.
The rise of Mr. Trump has been greeted with derision in many left-leaning Latin American states. Even in Colombia, where Conservative President Juan Manuel Santos enjoys a popular mandate, the American maverick is far from popular. The Colombian columnist Vladimir Florez in El Tiempo wrote in July that analysing "the logic of US politics leaves you with a lot of questions and few answers". The worrying thing, argues Mr. Florez, isn't that a xenophobe like Mr. Trump emerges from time to time; what’s troubling is that in a nation built by immigrants, so many have been applauding him.
In Venezuela’s El Espectador, Alvaro Forero Tascon is another commentator who has found local, unflattering parallels for Mr. Trump: “The positions of Donald Trump and Nicolas Maduro on immigration of Mexicans and Colombians show the dangers and benefits of the populist, nationalist oversimplifications of complex problems,” he told readers earlier this month. “The simplification tends to infect opponents. If the border issue with Venezuela, natural nationalism that generates hurtful events for Colombians has been boosted by the enthusiasm of politicians and journalists to over simplify the problem.”
Venezuela’s leftist leader Nicolas Maduro has indeed been dubbed by many, including the conservative former Colombian president Andres Pastrana, the ‘Latin American Trump’. According to a Reuters report, Mr. Maduro has been battling Internet memes that show him donning Mr. Trump's trademark blond comb-over, while others depict Mr. Trump with Mr. Maduro's bushy black moustache. "They're saying Maduro is like Donald Trump! Imagine," President Maduro told viewers during an hours-long television broadcast on August 24. "I don't even have his hairstyle - and least of all his bank account."
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Not everyone sees the funny side however. "In my opinion they're both nutters," 21-year-old Venezuelan law student Pedro Torrealba told Reuters’ Alexandra Ulmer. "It's not right that they're deporting Colombians. I feel terrible because my country is looking very bad."
Many Kenyans were already familiar with Donald Trump’s political ambitions after he questioned President Barack Obama's proof of citizenship and place of birth in 2011.
The reaction of L. Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International's regional director for East Africa, is one of shock. Mr. Trump, she says, “comes across as arrogant, crass and uneducated - his evident ability to make money aside. He says the most offensive things. About immigrants - as though all Americans, with the exception of its indigenous peoples, are not themselves immigrants. About women. About China his policy positions - if they can be called such, seeming more to pander to pure populist fears - are completely crazy. Look at his position that all 7 million or so estimated illegal migrants be deported. How and to where remains unclear.”
What concerns her even more, however, are his supporters. “This has brought him the public endorsement, finally, of America's white supremacists,” she notes. “From the Klan to the broad spectrum of neo-Nazi organisations who are so worried about the fate of the white population… who are these Americans who support him? Can it possibly be true that they are the ‘silent majority’? How could America tolerate such a drastic shift - from a fairly thoughtful presidency to... that? It's unbelievable really.”
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Writing for Nigeria’s Vanguard, Owei Lakemfa sees Donald Trump less hyperbolically as a “one-comic act” and “a typical cowboy starring in a Hollywood Western”. His attitude towards immigrants is once again flagged, particularly his intention to to abolish President Obama’s Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act under which immigrants would be granted conditional residency, and after getting better qualifications, full residency. “Clearly, under a Trump presidency,” Mr. Lakemfa concludes, “things will be quite tough not only for Americans and undocumented immigrants, but also for the rest of humanity as American policies would be unpredictable, predatory and scornful of poor countries.”
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Like Canadians, Europeans have tended to be more perplexed than alarmed by Mr. Trump’s popularity. In the UK - the country with which America is considered to have a ‘special relationship - many commentators have been led to draw comparisons between his anti-establishment “brand” (though not his policies) and the victory of initial outsider Jeremy Corbyn in Britain’s opposition Labour Party’s leadership race.
“The baffling levels of support currently being enjoyed by Donald Trump in the fight for the Republican presidential nomination is [as with Corbyn] probably a reflection of the fact that voters are no longer content to take at face value the limited range of acceptable options presented to them. But Trump’s case is also very different,” noted the political philosopher Professor David Runciman in the London Review of Books. “The length of the US contest means there is plenty of time for the old rules to reassert themselves. And when that happens, Trump has the option of running as an independent, which is what a disruptor would do (though the likely consequence is that he would help usher Hillary [Clinton] into the White House). Corbyn is an intransigent independent trying to take over an established player. It rarely works in politics, just as it rarely works in business.”
In Scotland, where Donald Trump’s highly controversial efforts to build a golf course in Aberdeenshire has led to such scenarios as local police officers apparently being filmed intimidating holdout property owners, Mr. Trump’s campaign has attracted terse analysis. Noting that at his early rallies, many of his supporters were allegedly paid to attend his events, the Daily Record’s John Niven concluded: “This is exactly what America would become if Trump was to become president - a cast of extras following a lunatic around. Of course, this would all simply be hysterically funny if we didn't have to return to what I meant earlier by saying I have mixed feelings about Trump's candidacy for the position of world's most powerful leader. There's the tiny problem that we're dealing with a country that not only elected Ronald Reagan but now thinks he was one of the greatest presidents in history. A country that elected not one but two George Bushes. A country now considering going again with a third Bush. That's right - a country so deranged that Trump could actually win the bloody thing. Trust me, no one would be laughing then.”
An analyst for The Economist sees a parallel with a different European politician - Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi. “Mr. Trump's rivals were geared up for a fight to be seen as the second-coming of Ronald Reagan, a champion of conservative principle," suggested the Democracy in America blog. "Mr. Trump blindsided them all with an American version of 'Berlusconismo'. This mix of charismatic personal authority and populist pandering has allowed Mr. Trump to rise to the top of the polls while playing fast and loose with conservative doctrine.”
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It is a view backed up by Italian journalist Beppe Severgnini in a recent New York Times op-ed. “The similarities between Donald Trump and Silvio Berlusconi are striking: Both are loud, vain, cheeky businessmen, amateur politicians and professional womanisers. Both have a troubled relation with their egos and their hair. Both think God is their publicist, and twist religion to suit their own ends.” His analysis includes a suggestion of how to counter the businessman influence arguing that “to dismiss Mr. Trump as a joke, as many Italians did with Mr. Berlusconi early on, and many Americans continue to do with Mr. Trump, would be a mistake. To take him seriously is also wrong. So use your sense of humour. Don’t take umbrage at his every offensive comment; his supporters don’t care, and the added chatter only helps him.”
The comparison wouldn’t upset Mr. Trump himself, according to Mario Platero of Italy 24, who interviewed Mr. Trump earlier this month. “Talking about Berlusconi, he couldn't help but express his admiration and praise - with sincerity. ‘Do you like Berlusconi?’ I asked him. He stopped for a moment, changing the tone of his voice, infusing it with determination: ‘I like him. I like him. He is a good person. I like Italy too. My best to all of you folks in Italy,’ he says.”
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Similar parallels have been drawn in Germany, where the property tycoon has been compared with the controversial politician Bernd Lucke, a founder member of the populist Alternative for Germany Party, with Süddeutsche Zeitung noting that Lucke and Trump advance a similar message of how people have “been tricked by the elites”.
Meanwhile in France, Anne Deysine, a US specialist at the University of Paris, noted the similarities in Le Figaro between Mr. Trump and former National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, particularly "the attitude of the two men, which is characterised by provocative, offensive language and a refusal to observe political correctness". Like most foreign commentators, Ms. Deysine sees his popularity as tied to a general antipathy towards establishment politicians. "The American people are fed up with the political and economic situation,” she argued. “They do not feel the effects of the recovery in their daily lives. Trump has the great advantage of being able to embody the violent exasperation of the average American and [the] middle class. His accusations in every direction allow frustrated voters to think or hope that a candidate has finally heard and understood them."
There is however one exception to the near universally negative reception to Donald Trump’s candidacy - in Russia. Jay Vogt for Russian Insider, a journal written by expatriate Americans, has welcomed Mr. Trump’s campaign, arguing that Mr. Trump’s “non-ideological, deal-making nature could make him an ideal partner for Putin”. In Mr. Vogt’s view, the “distinguishing characteristic about the Donald is that he harbours none of the ridiculous and hysterical Russophobia, which of course is a hallmark of every other Republican candidate. Trump has never spoken harshly about Putin; and there is good reason for this: he likes him. Or if he doesn’t like him outright, at minimum, he admires and/or respects him. If this is surprising, it shouldn’t be. For a man who wrote a book entitled ‘Think Big and Kick Ass in Business and Life’, the big-thinking, ass-kicking Vladimir Putin is an obvious source of admiration. No national leader makes world-changing mega deals with greater frequency than Mr. Putin.”
Writing for Russia Direct, veteran journalist Eugene Bai is more circumspect, but has noted his popularity with many Russian commentators. “In this great debate Donald Trump was the only one of the 10 participants who spoke out in support of Russia,” Yuri Yudenkov, a lecturer in politics at Moscow State University told him. “Trump said that Obama’s policy is wrong, and that he would reach an agreement with Putin. Many spoke out against, many remained silent, but Trump was the only one openly in favour.”
Analysis of the US race is also rather different to mainstream American expectations. “Trump is very rich and can seriously alter the balance of power in the Republican primaries. But I don’t think he’s aiming for the presidency, rather the vice-presidency. He knows full well that money can do a lot, but not everything,” Russian political scientist Areg Galstyan told Russia Direct, and suggested that if the Republican nomination went to an establishment candidate he could ask Trump to share the ticket with him. “It would add political balance: Trump is a radical, while Bush is considered a moderate,” surmises Mr. Galstyan. “Trump has a lot of influence over Congress, and I think that Bush or Walker would want a guy like that in their administration.”
Mr. Bai, like other foreign policy analysts, has not however been impressed by any of the Republican candidates’ foreign policy credentials, “None of the presidential runners in the debates has shown him or herself to be a strategist with a passable grip on world politics,” he concludes. “Whoever wins the upcoming primaries will find it difficult to compete with the Democrats’ shoo-in candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It can be assumed that if the chaos in the Republican house continues, the Kremlin will have to forget about Democrat fatigue and try to rebuild relations with Barack Obama’s party after all.”
When Mr. Trump has been discussed by Middle-Eastern media, coverage of him has tended to be filtered through one of two lenses. The first is the extent to which he represents US ‘Islamophobia’; the second are the attitudes he has advanced towards the region’s various tensions, including his attitude to the recent nuclear deal with Iran and the rise of Islamic State.
Writing for Al Jazeera, Hatem Bazian, co-editor and founder of the Islamophobia Studies Journal, sees Mr. Trump’s rise as the sharp edge of US conservatism, in which “opposition to Obama's policies and his skin colour was instrumentalised by the right-wing to sharpen overt anti-black racism, anti-Muslim rhetoric (Islamophobia), anti-Asian sentiments focused on China, and anti-Mexican xenophobia - while all along presenting whites as the ‘true American’ cavalry coming out to the rescue”.
For Mr. Bazian, Mr. Trump’s campaign represents the zenith of a movement intended to squeeze out the Democratic support base among minority groups and particularly new citizens. “Trump understood the game better than those who set it up and turned the magic on the right-wing magicians by being more openly xenophobic and racist than anyone else and calling out the Republicans on the carpet publicly,” he argued in a September 8 article. “Trump has become the face of xenophobia and racism in the US today, but this will not be sufficient to win him the Republican nomination. Throwing Jorge Ramos out of the press conference will re-energise millions of Latino voters, who will come out on election day to punish the Republicans, deny them the White House, and end the Republican majority in Congress.”
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A more outspoken assessment, also published by Al Jazeera, is advanced by Hamid Dabashi, the Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. In his view, Donald Trump’s provocations are analogous to outrages committed by Islamic State: “Throughout the long and lazy month of August, two sites of daily news in particular were competing for the headlines: the ISIL atrocities in Syria and Iraq, and Donald Trump in the United States. They looked like two testosterone-infested obnoxious teenagers waking up in the morning and wondering which one could one-up the other in their vulgar exhibitionism of violence and power.”
“We see them both as manifestations of ‘Pornotopia’ writ large,” writes Mr. Dabashi, in reference to the title of Beatriz Preciado’s recent essay on the subliminal rules of political discourse. ISIL and Trump are not anomalies: they are emblematic of a pornographic politics of vulgar exhibitionism that marks the death of any meaningful political culture East or West with a remote claim to decency, legitimacy, or civic responsibility. The only measure of our humanity that remains is how steadfastly we oppose and end the banal voyeurism they systematically demand and exact.”
Mr. Trump receives a more sympathetic press from some Israeli observers. Writing for Forward Magazine, Uriel Heilman argues that “among the expansive field of Republican presidential candidates on display in the party’s first debates Thursday night, Donald Trump may be the most closely connected to the Jewish people”.
The only [candidate] that’s going to give real support to Israel is me. The rest of them are all talk, no action. They’re politicians. I’ve been loyal to Israel from the day I was born. My father, Fred Trump, was loyal to Israel before me. The only one that’s going to give Israel the kind of support it needs is Donald Trump.” - Donald Trump in an interview with JNS.org
Unlike many journalists outside the US, Ms. Heilman also points towards Mr. Trump’s past liberal positions. “Trump at varying times has supported liberal policies like abortion rights as well as Tea Party causes like strict immigration restrictions… overall, Trump doesn’t appear to have very many fixed policy positions. Unlike the other Republican candidates, he has no policy section on his campaign website.” While noting his praise of Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, his opposition to the recent deal with Iran and past business dealings in the country, Ms. Heilman concludes in equitable fashion merely that “one thing is certain of Donald Trump: as long as he stays in this campaign, he will continue to use his voice often and loudly.”
By contrast, Peter Beinart, writing for Haaretz is highly critical of Mr. Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric, asking readers how they would feel “if Trump and Carson [currently in second place in the polls, and who recently said that he would oppose on religious grounds the candidacy of any Muslim in the presidential race] were talking about the Jews” and accusing them of failing to confront anti-Muslim bigotry.
Among the most striking aspects of Mr. Trump’s campaign has been his repeated attacks on the Chinese government’s approach to business. In campaign speeches, he has blamed China for stealing American jobs and breaking international rules, and accused the country’s government of currency manipulation and espionage. One of his seemingly-off-the cuff proposals would be to raise specific taxes on Chinese imports each time the state committed a "bad act". In July, he rebuked the White House for giving Chinese diplomats state dinners, saying they should be taken to McDonald’s instead.
Washington Post journalist Philip Bump sees two reasons behind Mr. Trump’s rhetoric. “First, because it allows him to argue, as he did during his campaign announcement, that China constantly beats the United States in trade deals. And, second, that he'd beat China - and everyone else - given the opportunity. The largest bank in the world has offices in Trump Tower, he exclaims, repeatedly! He's China's landlord!”
Chinese state official media has reacted to Mr. Trump’s allegations in measured terms. Responding to the claim that China was “ripping” the US, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang was more conciliatory than dismissive. “Economic and trade cooperation between China and the United States has grown to such an extent today that it has become like ‘You are among us and we are among you’,” Mr. Lu told Politico, calling the relationship, “a two-way, win-win situation”.
Pressed in a news conference in September about Mr. Trump’s repeated verbal attacks on Beijing, another spokesperson from China's Foreign Ministry was guarded.
"Everyone has the right to air his or her personal opinion, but it is the policies towards China adopted by the US government and the mainstream opinion of the US people that we value more," Ms. Hua Chunying told journalists. "Decades of development of China-US relations proves that despite various voices and disturbances that may occur from time to time, bilateral relations keep moving forward."
This guy's hair's so strange. I thought it was Photoshopped at first." - A comment on Chinese social media
If one of Mr. Trump’s intentions was to fluster the Chinese government into a media confrontation, he hasn’t succeeded yet. Meanwhile, Chinese media has also paid Mr. Trump the slight courtesy of reaching for expert rebuttals in their critiques of his views, with a number of publications picking up on and translating criticisms of Mr. Trump's statement about bringing jobs back from China by Alan Blinder, the former Federal Reserve vice chairman and a Princeton University economist. “It’s completely implausible,” Mr. Blinder said of Trump’s plan.
The South China Morning Post sees Mr. Trump as the flamboyant side of mammon: “What impresses American people the most about such a legendary business figure is not his unique philosophy of doing business,” it suggested in a June op-ed, “but rather his extravagant lifestyle… his inclination to flaunt his wealth, unpredictable way of doing things, and 'big mouth' personality.”
Chinese commentators aren’t writing off Mr. Trump’s chances of becoming president. “Few people now believe Trump will be nominated as the Republican Party’s presidential candidate, let alone win the presidential election,” suggests an article published in August on ChinaNews.com. “However, as the richest presidential candidate, if Trump pours millions of dollars into TV campaigns, this plus his reputation and eloquence without doubt will make the political campaign of the Republican Party even more unpredictable. It is worth waiting to see who will be the ‘dark horse’ in the end.”
Trump critics abound in North-East Asia. “Donald Trump shows a level of ignorance on Korean issues that is frankly shocking, to say the least,” wrote Um Joon-ho in the Korea Times following the first Republican Debate. “I believe either he, or his advisers, are out of touch with any key issues related to Korea or know the real answers, but are simply trying to inflame and ignite Trump's main support base. South Korea deserves the kind of respect deserved by the truest friends and not the demagogue type of remarks.”
A recent editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald reacting to the second debate suggests that the mood in Australia is shifting from amusement to concern. “Mr. Trump's insults and whacky policies are on the far right socially but mostly left economically,” it declared. “His bankruptcy record is a burden. He struggles on global issues… The Herald believes countries are normally best governed from the centre. We trust Americans will support less extreme solutions and rhetoric than those Mr. Trump has offered thus far.”
Chidanand Rajghatta of the Times of India flags for Indian readers the likely consequences of some of Mr. Trump’s proposed reforms to work visas. “His determination to roll back the H1-B visa... from all accounts will stymie business ties between the US and countries such as India that supply skilled guest workers,” he warns. “Raising the prevailing wage paid to H-1Bs will force companies to give these coveted entry-level jobs to the existing domestic pool of unemployed native and immigrant workers in the US, instead of flying in cheaper workers from overseas. The real estate mogul, whose business has also depended on a large immigrant workforce - not to speak of his own forebears being immigrants - said he will also restrict any new green cards to foreign workers abroad, till such time employers hire from the domestic pool of unemployed immigrant and native workers.” He notes with relief, however, that “Trump's proposals were panned by most immigration reform advocates and the mainstream media.”
The face of America?
Mr. Trump’s words have travelled across the world, and his high-flying campaign has mainly been greeted with a mixture of confusion, irritation and alarm. Until the controversy sparked by Mr. Carson’s recent statement that no Muslim candidate should be allowed to stand for president, none of his Republican competitors had received anything like the same level of scrutiny from news media. It is noticeable that few commentators have seen Mr. Trump as emblematic of anything other than the disgruntlement of a small portion of the US electorate.
This contrasts somewhat with an article by Illinois-born sports and politics writer Will Leitch for Bloomberg following Mr. Trump’s entry to the race in which he suggested the mogul represents his countrymen more closely than many would like to believe. “The fact is: We are all Trumps now,” he proclaimed. “Our entire culture is organised around the principle of one’s personal brand being more important than any other concern. (One would almost call it ‘Trumping’.) ‘No publicity is bad publicity’, the idea that if they’re talking about you, you’re doing something right - that has been the driving force behind Trump for three decades. And now it’s the driving force behind everything: We’ve all finally caught up to him… the idea that he is somehow not a serious presidential candidate, that he doesn’t bring anything to a potential debate... is completely immaterial. Trump flirts with running for president every cycle because he knows that it's America's greatest opportunity for personal branding, and if you think that’s somehow beneath the process, talk to the more than a dozen other people running for president this year who, like Trump, also have no chance to become president… We’re a lot more like Trump than we want to admit.”
Mr. Trump as the true face of America is a perspective few foreign commentators have so far advanced. The longer he stays in the race, the more likely it is that that may start to change.