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Trump Trends on Chinese Social Media Sparking Celebration

Photo : Reuters

Amidst a historic moment in the United States, where former President Donald Trump became the first-ever former US president to be convicted of a felony on Thursday, China's interest surged, accompanied by a mix of intrigue and schadenfreude.

For China, a rising authoritarian superpower, the conviction presented a unique opportunity to reinforce its narrative of political superiority over American democracy. While Trump's trial bolstered this narrative, it also shed light on an unprecedented and potentially unsettling prospect for the ruling Chinese Communist Party – the accountability of an elected leader under independent courts and prosecutors, ultimately convicted by a jury of peers.

Throughout Trump's legal ordeal, Chinese propagandists sought to capitalize on the situation, framing it as emblematic of the polarization and dysfunction plaguing American politics, and consequently, the decline of the United States.

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As news of Trump's conviction reverberated across China's heavily censored social media landscape, discussions flourished on platforms like Weibo, garnering over 120 million views. Comments ranged from sarcastic jabs to nationalist fervor, with some users urging Trump's supporters to "storm the Capitol" and others dubbing him "Comrade Nation Builder Trump" for purportedly aiding China's ascent on the global stage through his isolationist policies.

Nationalist influencers seized the opportunity to deride the US, with one blogger provocatively suggesting that a civil war in America was no longer a far-fetched notion.

Under President Xi Jinping's assertive leadership, anti-American sentiment has permeated Chinese social media, with voices questioning the legitimacy of Western-style democracy and highlighting the perceived flaws in the US system.

However, Trump's conviction poses a delicate balancing act for Chinese state propagandists. While it underscores the weaknesses of American democracy, it also inadvertently showcases a judicial system capable of holding high-ranking officials accountable – a rarity in China, where the judiciary remains subservient to the Communist Party and boasts an astonishing conviction rate of nearly 99%.

Moreover, the timing of Trump's conviction, just days before the 35th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, adds another layer of complexity to the narrative, prompting cautious scrutiny from Chinese authorities.

Despite the potential fodder for criticism, Chinese state media has refrained from launching scathing attacks on Trump, instead opting for a more subdued approach to navigate the sensitive subject matter.

Alfred Wu, an associate professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, believes that Chinese state media will tread cautiously in the aftermath, wary of the repercussions of antagonizing Trump, while strategically leveraging the incident to spotlight perceived flaws in the US system.

As China continues to navigate the aftermath of Trump's conviction, it remains to be seen how the narrative will evolve and whether it will further shape perceptions of American democracy on the global stage.

May 31, 2024 3:26 p.m. 764

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