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Op-Ed: China tunes into the US Presidential Debate, did Chinese social media backfire?

By Luo Ensi, Zou Luxiao (People's Daily Online)    02:16, September 28, 2016

Democrat Hillary Clinton (R) and Republican Donald Trump attend their first presidential debate in Hempstead of New York, the United States, Sept. 26, 2016. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on Monday held their first presidential debate in Hempstead.

It didn’t take long for last night’s debate to feature China. The Republic candidate Donald Trump mentioned China nine times and the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton three times. Quotable quotes from Trump includes “they (China) are using our country as a piggy bank”, and he blames China for stealing jobs from U.S. and cyber hacking U.S.

As China appeared front and center in the rhetoric, China’s online community followed the debate closely, posting commentary all over social media. According to Sina Weibo’s data, there were 73,070 media mentions of the US presidential election in 24 hours. The commentary didn’t differ too greatly from that present on American social media. Two groups support each candidate, while many hold the idea that one is as unfavorable as the other.

Adopting an attitude of onlookers, Chinese web users did not respond to Trump’s China-bashing remarks with outrage. The focus of discussion mainly rests on the “manners” of two candidates.

Back in August, an ABC News/Washington Post poll found that Trump’s unfavorability of 63 percent and Clinton’s 56 percent made them both the most unpopular candidates in over 30 years of polling. One user echoed the voice of many Americans when he said, “Who is crappier? Or, the showdown for who is least welcome.” In fact, three out of the top six comments on CCTV’s Weibo post about the debate used almost identical rhetoric: Who is the least popular?

An ongoing poll on Weibo shows a slight edge of Clinton at 51.5 percent. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: Zou Luxiao, Bianji)

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