Who does China want to win the Election?

An earlier reader requested we talk about the upcoming US Election.    You know, the Big One.   The President!

Specifically, which president would China rather deal with? 

And if the Chinese would prefer either Hillary or Trump.

In my mind it is a no brainer.  The President of China would least prefer to deal with someone experienced in foreign affairs.  Someone that doesn’t know them very well, if at all.   Someone they can thus dazzle and charm, with a plastic smile and a velvet glove.   I’ve often spoken of China in general, and it’s preferences for certain types of businessmen, when sitting across the table during a negotiation. 

Most of today’s fashionable China “experts” have never been to a factory, or had to sit down for a business negotiation.  They are magazine writers, podcast interviewers, or simple social commentators. They haven’t sat down in a room, alone, with a CEO to write up a contract or do a deal.   That is, they’ve never been in a situation where a company is relying upon them for results.  
Do any of our current lists of candidates have that background?

It is true that many Chinese factories would prefer to deal with a fellow that “knows China”.    Some would not. 

I find both schools of thought have legitimacy.

As for Newbies, they tend to fall into two types:  those that are hardcore to the extreme.  Usually inflexible.   (And in China one needs to be flexible.)    These types feel it important to set the tone of the relationship right away.  They go out of their way to be “tough”.   They are both male and female.  

They are usually the insecure types.   Perhaps they’ve had very little prior experience in China, or they hold the oft held stereotype of Chinese as all “sneaky”.    But as is human nature over time they themselves will soften up.   Or they’ll simply FAIL.

The other type is the complete opposite.   They don’t act tough, and they don’t wag their finger.   They are neither self important nor all knowing.   However, their knowledge of China is limited.    As are their business skills.   And yet they can indeed be pompous.  They do not walk around with a chip on their shoulder or with an air of urgency.   They decide China is a fun place to golf and “hey, the girls here are so friendly”.    Their marriage back in the States’ (or choose your own country, they are from everywhere) is a mess and well, life back home just isn’t very fun.  

In essence they are soft putty in China’s nimble hands.   By the end of the trip the businessman has decided China isn’t so bad “after all”, and well let’s just let our newfound factory “solve our problems for us”.   They know what they’re doing.

Whether one is won over quickly or not simply boils down to personality.

But while many factories do prefer to work directly with someone that knows their way around, when negotiations become tough they often come to regret their original thinking.   China veterans have heard it all, and more importantly seen it all.  What am I talking about?   Those with ample experience with Chinese have come across nearly every type of personality.   Most importantly the nationalist, patriotic type.   They’ve heard every sort of rhetoric imaginable.  Shell shocked and dazed at first, twenty years later they are in their element, having outlasted many a contemporary. 

Ironically, their experience after so many years is grudgingly respected.   There is nothing specific one can point to.  Rather, it is just the “look” of how a veteran of China carries themselves.   They say the right things in the right situations.   They don’t blather on.    A fellow truly knowledgeable on China says little.     He lets his experience and instincts lead the way.  I find them very parsimonious with their words.

In my view, they are to be admired,and as a Chinese government official faced with one across the table ,  avoided.   Meanwhile, the Chinese already realize there is no tool at their disposal that will work to break the other side down.   The China veteran already expects his Chinese counterparts to be at times both charismatic and predictably both flattering and charming, while at other times harsh, obstinate and shrill.    

Unfortunately, the stakes between China and America are high.  Unmovable force vs unstoppable object.  What does this mean?  It means candid talk goes out the window.   

It can also mean blunt trauma vs subtle maneuvering.

Or….Trump vs Hillary.

I know little of Trump.  But I know he will use a hammer to swat a fly.    As Truman once said of Eisenhower, 

“He will say ‘do this’, and nothing will happen”.     

 That is, Trump comes from a world where he is powerful enough to not have to be a good listener.    And where within his inner circle his every whim is obeyed.    That makes people of this ilk uncomfortable with  government, as government is glacial, and workers within a bureaucracy have their own speed of fulfilling somebody else’s desires.

The Chinese like most other countries simply don’t react well to blunt, gruff personalities.   Trump is both, but I’d be very, very leery of underestimating him.   I think he says what people want to hear, and is actually quite good at marketing himself.   I’m only partially confident of his ability to gain the  nomination.    Rather, I believe there is a good chance he will lose during an open convention, if not be shot first.    Those with an unexplainable fervent following tend to attract those with an equally radical dislike.

All the same his gruff “I’m going to walk into that room and kick their ass” style simply humors the Chinese.    They’ll just dig in and do nothing.   And all they will have to do is say something as bland as

“He doesn’t know us very well”, as cover.  (Which is the way they want it!) 

The Chinese will also realize that blowing Trump off would simply justify the feelings a sizable population of America already has of Trump.

However, I think Trump is more nationalist than Hillary.   And as with Hillary, less forgiving of idiots.  As such, I think the US Military will have a tough time with either candidate and can expect a lot of their officers to be fired.   The one good thing about Trump is his personality will most certainly lead to an ovedue culling of America’s large government bureaucracy.

Still, Trump is new.  Thus more unpredictable.    The expectation of taking his rhetoric and translating it into results would be high.  And this makes him dangerous.   The enemy you know is always safer than the one you do not.    And Trump may be smart enough to leverage this fact.    That is, to leverage the perception of himself as a looneytune to his own advantage when dealing with China. 

Yet unlike the ever so patrician and civil Obama, Trump simply is too rich and wealthy to give a fuck what the Media or Republican Donors think of him.   I certainly would not put it past him to simply do whatever he wants, blow up the system, and then leave after 4 years.

Trump’s newness to “the game” would leave the Chinese guessing.   They would find his unpredictability hard to deal with.   

Trump would suffer from a base disrespect.  His own unpopularity in the American press would serve to undermine his effectiveness, American Prestige be damned.

And what of Hillary?

China would prefer Hillary not win the election.  No question about it.  She would be neither malleable nor prone to persuasion.    I told an earlier reader that in my view Hillary is both cold and dispassionate, humorless and mean.  And she is exactly what America needs as a leader.   Obama is simply too damn nice.    The Chinese took their measure of the man and decided he could be manipulated.    That will end with Hillary.

China wants the whole salami, ie the South China Sea, and to paraphrase what I heard earlier from someone on the John Batchelor podcast they are content to take it one thin slice at a time.   To China it is indeed a marathon.   When Xi is stopped he will not worry.  Rather, he knows his successor will continue to push the struggle from that same place.

Hillary is aching for a fight.   She first made headlines with a resounding speech she gave in Beijing in 1995, during the FourthWorld Conference on Women.    With the current atmosphere in China towards feminism and women’s rights Hillary cannot wait to go back into the Dragon’s Lair and stir things up.   It is clear to all that China at one time was a different China from when Hillary showed up in 1995.  China was a more tolerant China, and as only Nixon could go to Beijing, only Hillary can come into town unscathed and ask the simple question,

“What the Hell happened”?

Yet it won’t mean anything if she doesn’t win the Presidency.

The Chinese government thinks it is high time for America to leave the region and to allow China to reassert its national right to dominate the area and turn it into a “Chinese Lake”.    Hillary of course opposes this and was the one on the scene to say so.    America is an “Asian nation” only by benefit of having a Pacific coast.  Oh yeah, it also has a ring of sturdy allies that crowd China’s perimeter.   They are the last thing China sees when it goes to bed and the first thing it sees when it wakes up.  

Asian conferences are now only a sideshow to the real event. 

In 2010 in Hanoi she angered the Chinese by calling the South China Sea an American “national interest”.   This of course greatly angered China.    China doesn’t seem to understand yet it cannot collect tribute from other Asian nations anymore.  

And dealing with Hillary reminds them of this.   She reminds them of their challenges and constraints.   

And Trump doesn’t.


  1. Nice write-up. Thanks. I think you hit it pretty well. Trump if he were to win would be good for domestic reasons. Not for policies so much instead for truly shaking up the governing system in the US. Both political sides in the US are responsible for the current mess. This is his big appeal I think (along Bernie Sanders to a lesser degree) However, in foreign affairs his act would not be very useful beyond small time issues.

    Hillary would not do much domestically, but would be very forceful internationally. There is plenty not like about her of course, but as is often said about lawyers you don't hire them to be nice and friendly, you hire them to protect your interests by being the people everyone hates so much.

    I suspect from the Chinese Point of View, Hillary is the worst case scenario versus Trump or any other R-convention decided candidate. China has had a good 16-year run of weakness from American foreign policy towards it (the plane incident early Bush excepted). 8 years of overzealous Middle East focused policy, followed by 8 years of trying to place nice with everybody.

    Let's not forget that Bill sent the 7th Fleet through the Taiwan Strait followed up by the "accidental" bombing of the Chinese embassy.

    Should be interesting to see what happens.

    BTW, I think some verbiage got lost one sentence in your post.

    In my view, they are to be admired, and if a Chinese government official faced with one across the table , avoided.

  2. Much thx for your comments. If I were the US Prez, I'd consider having a carrier fleet sail in international waters up and down China's east coast, and see how they like having a foreign power on their doorstep, ala China's navy with the Philippines.


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