Why China smiles at Trump

A volatile America offers Beijing both riches and risks, writes Kerry Brown

The World Today Published 29 September 2017 Updated 23 November 2020 3 minute READ

Professor Kerry Brown

Former Associate Fellow, Asia-Pacific Programme

Whatever the idiosyncrasies of Chinese views of Donald Trump, and we will come to those a little later, there is one thing that Beijing shared with the rest of the world last year – a high level of confidence that Trump would never be elected. This can be seen by the fact that the state news agency, Xinhua, sent far more correspondents to Hillary Clinton’s headquarters on the night of the election than to her opponent’s.

The Chinese are the ultimate pragmatists, we are often told, particularly after their own three-decade exposure to mercurial, freewheeling, capricious leadership under Mao Zedong. As a result, since the presidential election result was announced on November 9 last year, Xi Jinping and his fellow leaders have been flexible in their approach to the 45th president of the USA.

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