Decision-makers in Beijing aren’t scared by the threats lobbed their way by U.S. presidential candidates, but Chinese lawmakers do have concern and interest in who wins the presidency.
China’s views of the ongoing race are actually rather stark as well: Most Chinese see presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton as the predictable “devil we know,” while Donald Trump is an unknown entity.
“[Hillary] is predictable, they generally know how she approaches China: There are aspects they don’t like about her, but they generally know what to expect,” said Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser for Asia and director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. This assessment was echoed by Tsinghua University senior adviser Harvey Dzodin, who suggested in China Daily that China may view the election as “between the devil and the deep blue sea.”
Chinese assessments of Trump are colorful and varied. He’s seen as a candidate who would “bring changes to the Sino-U.S. relationship,” but who embodies”pragmatism” despite his “dubious record of success as a businessman.”
“Donald Trump is a puzzlement” to Chinese officials said Kenneth Lieberthal, senior fellow emeritus of Brookings. “They don’t like his proclamations about what he would do in terms of tariffs on Chinese goods, and that he’d go after China on economic and trade issues.” While Chinese leaders may have a general sense of Clinton’s worldview in lieu of President Obama’s, they’re largely in the dark about Trump’s personal preferences, Lieberthal explained.