Trump protests divide Chinese public

By Yang Sheng Source:Global Times Published: 2017/1/23 0:13:39

Widespread rallies show fragility of Western democracy


Police officers block demonstrators who surrounded a parade float with Donald Trump supporters during the Women's March on Saturday in Washington, DC. Millions of protesters spearheaded by women's rights groups demonstrated across the US and the world to send a defiant message to US President Donald Trump. Photo: AFP

Police officers block demonstrators who surrounded a parade float with Donald Trump supporters during the Women's March on Saturday in Washington, DC. Millions of protesters spearheaded by women's rights groups demonstrated across the US and the world to send a defiant message to US President Donald Trump. Photo: AFP

The Chinese people are largely divided over protests that have spread across major cities in the Western world after Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the US, even though there was limited coverage of the inauguration ceremony in the Chinese media.

The Women's March on Washington protest spread across the world on Saturday, with huge numbers turning out in other US cities like Chicago and New York, and in London and Paris over fears that the new president may put hard-fought women's rights, and those of other minority groups, at risk. 

Compared to the inauguration, the mainstream Chinese media has mainly reported the anti-Trump movement within the US and among the Western world. From the protests against Trump, Chinese people found the schism in the US is becoming increasingly serious and are questioning the reliability and universality of the Western democratic system.

China's burgeoning feminists seem invigorated by the ongoing demonstrations, with some complaining that Chinese women remained silent while women in the West have already closed ranks to express their anger and protect their rights.

The vast majority of Chinese Net users, however, consider the 2 million, an estimate of the number who turned out to protest across the US, cannot represent all the women in the whole world. One Net user said that "the reason why Chinese women are silent is not China's political system, but a better social environment for women that Chinese women enjoy."

Net user gyq392005 said that "we are not saying that China's political system is perfect, but at least Chinese women receive the same pay as men for doing the same job, but US women are still fighting for 'equal pay for equal work.' We support US women's march but we disagree that the US has a better political system than us."

 Some Chinese analysts believe the widespread protests show the fragility of Western democracy. The demonstrators' slogan "not my president" shows many Americans don't accept "procedural justice" any more just because left-wingers and liberals have decided that Trump's victory is the death of democracy, said Chu Yin, an associate professor at the University of International Relations.

When the economic situation is good enough to satisfy the majority, or middle class, then US people follow the rule of democracy to accept the winner of the election, Chu said "but when the economic situation is bad and global challenges, such as immigration and terrorism deeply impact people's daily lives, the majority that were in a stabilizing role disappear, and society will be polarized and divided."

China's social media is rife with discussions about Trump's inauguration, showing intense curiosity among the public over the possible changes brought about by the new president and to the US political system.

The inauguration ceremony, which took place around 1am on Saturday Beijing time,  was not broadcast live on any Chinese media. However, just a few minutes after the inauguration address, the full text in Chinese was being shared widely on WeChat and Sina Weibo.

Warning to Trump

The Xinhua News Agency released a commentary with the title "As Trump takes office, cooperation is best option for US-China ties, global interests" on Saturday to urge Trump to keep cooperating with China on economic issues, and to deal with non-traditional global challenges such as terrorism, global warming and cyber security. 

"Currently we still don't know how aggressive and hostile Trump could be. We are preparing for any potential conflict on trade with the US, but the door of Sino-US cooperation is not closed yet, and Trump, as a businessman, is pragmatic, so we can still put efforts into ensuring Sino-US cooperation continues," said Diao Daming, a research fellow at the Institute of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Xinhua also sent a tough message to the US' new administration that "cooperation requires respect for each other's bottom line and prudence not to violate it," and "China's resolve to safeguard its defining core interests in Taiwan and the South China Sea islands has always been strong."

Trump and his team are also learning how to deal with China and the rest of the world, so based on mutual respect, Diao said, China can understand the US' economic situation is in trouble and Trump wants to fix it, but "we should prevent the new US president from achieving his goal by sacrificing the Sino-US relationship."

"After some constructive dialogue or even serious debates and frictions, we believe we can make Trump accept that, without China's assistance, he can't make America great again," Diao stressed.


Newspaper headline: Trump protests split China


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