Beijing (dpa) – Donald Trump’s stunning victory over Hillary Clinton, a veteran politician, is a sign that many underestimated the amount of anger there was directed towards the elite in the United States, China’s state media and citizens are saying.
Some warn of similarities between what is happening in the US and the conditions before China’s Cultural Revolution, which started 50 years ago when Chairman Mao Zedong mobilized young people to stamp out “bourgeois” elements he claimed had infiltrated government and society.
China was plunged into chaos and anarchy until Mao’s death 10 years later. Some 1.5 million to 1.8 million people, including many intellectuals, were killed and at least 36 million people were victims of political persecution.
“Hillary did not lose as an individual. She lost on behalf of traditional US elite political philosophy,” the state-run Global Times said in an editorial late Wednesday.
“Some people say that this is a ‘political rebellion,’ a US Cultural Revolution. Although these claims are exaggerated, they do depict the current political state of the US,” the editorial said.
“The election resulted in an unprecedented split in US society. Many of those who did not vote for Trump were ‘hated’ from the depths of people’s hearts. This kind of ‘hate’ was rare in US election history until now,” the Global Times said.
The newspaper’s sombre tone was a departure from its previous commentaries, which appeared to delight in using Trump as an example to point out the failings of Western democratic societies.
On Weibo, a popular Chinese microblogging site similar to Twitter, posts were split between Trump fans and people who were devastated.
“It does feel a bit like the Cultural Revolution. Now the internet is full of words of hatred that are tearing society apart,” one commentator said.
“I couldn’t believe it. Brexit, Trump winning, the world is changing,” another said.
“Has the Democratic Party’s [failure] ushered in the beginning of the US version of the Cultural Revolution? The extreme patriotism does remind me of the Cultural Revolution,” said someone with the username Scholar.
The Chinese who were happy about Trump’s victory, on the other hand, seemed to focus on his personality.
“Congratulations to Trump, his counterattack succeeded! I like this funny guy!” said a man from the city of Ningbo in China’s eastern Zhejiang province.
Some Chinese said that the results of the US election make China’s system, where there is no meaningful political opposition to Communist Party rule, seem not too bad in comparison.
“At least [President] Xi Jinping hasn’t been accused of raping women and doesn’t talk about grabbing people by the genitals,” a magazine writer in Beijing told dpa, asking for anonymity to avoid repercussions.
Experts say the Chinese government also worries about the risk of political turmoil that a Trump presidency might bring.
“Compared with Hillary, Trump is more unpredictable and more likely to start a revolution. China worries about this uncertainty the most,” Yu Yingli, an Asia-Pacific studies expert at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, told dpa.
“Trump’s win will infect not only China, but all important economies in the world. It will bring great negative impact on the global economy and finance because he supports nationalism and protectionism,” said Shi Yinhong, professor of international relations from Renmin University.
Trump blames China for stealing jobs from US citizens and devaluing its currency to gain an unfair trade advantage. In May, he had gone as far as to describe China’s trade relationship with the US as “rape.”
China is Washington’s second-largest trading partner, with the value of US-China trade totalling 659 billion dollars in 2015.
Chinese President Xi Jinping congratulated Trump Wednesday evening, saying he hoped they could work together to boost China-US relations, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
Earlier, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China expected to make joint efforts with the new US government to “maintain the sustained, healthy and stable growth of China-US relations to benefit people in both countries and across the world.”