Of all the countries in the world the presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has insulted or criticized, not one has been consistently abused as China. Yes, Trump called Belgium a “city,” and described its capital, Brussels, as a “hellhole.” Yes, he said our NATO alliance is obsolete. Yes, he accused Japan and South Korea of sponging off the U.S. military. And sure, his assaults on Mexico began on day one.
But Trump seems to harbor a special antipathy toward China. In virtually every speech he hammers home the idea that Beijing is relentlessly stealing jobs and export dollars from the U.S. through unfair trade deals. He constantly accuses the Chinese government of continuing to manipulate its currency in order to keep its products cheap on world markets, even though experts say that practice was ended years ago.
Further, Trump regularly promises to slap punitive tariffs on Chinese goods entering the United State unless and until leaders in Beijing agree to new trade agreements that he approves.
So it’s more than a little odd that when the Pew Research Center asked people around the world how much confidence they have in Trump “to do the right thing regarding world affairs” if he is elected president, the country most optimistic about a Trump presidency was ... China.
To be clear, that is not to say that China has a lot of confidence in Trump to do the right thing. Nobody does. China just has more than most, with 22 percent of Chinese polled expressing at least some degree of confidence in President Trump.
In most parts of Europe, for example, Trump struggled to break into double digits, and did as poorly as 3 percent in economically troubled Greece. Notable exceptions were Italy, which has its own history of electing narcissistic billionaires to run things, and Hungary, which is currently ruled by Viktor Orban, who has overseen a harsh crackdown on the free press and an uptick in human rights violations and so might view Trump’s campaign with a certain familiarity.
China also has a relatively small plurality of people -- 40 percent -- who say they have no confidence in Trump. That may seem like a lot, but the average in Northern Europe is in the high eighties, while Australia and Japan post no-confidence scores of 97 percent and 82 percent, respectively.
In Europe, members of political parties skeptical about the European Union and hostile to immigrants -- including the United Kingdom Independence Party in Britain and Forza Italia in Italy -- have more confidence in Trump.
Pew also found a connection between support for Trump and another strongman-type leader.
“Positive views of Trump are tied to confidence in another international leader tested: Russian President Vladimir Putin,” the study found. “In all the countries surveyed with a large enough sample size to permit analysis, people who have confidence in Putin are more likely to express confidence in Trump.”