Donald J. Trump at his victory speech on Wednesday morning in Manhattan. Credit Photo: The New York Times
As the Republican candidate Donald Trump, after scoring a series of shocking wins in battleground US states including Florida and Ohio on Wednesday afternoon (Beijing time), beat Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton to become the 45th president of the US, the cloud of suspense over the new president of the country was finally lifted.
On the other side of the Pacific Ocean, Chinese people have been keeping a close eye on the election since a year ago. Besides officials and scholars analyzing the future China-US relations under the new administration, people at the “grassroots”, or those who are active on the Internet space, have also been watching and commenting on the developments though they have little involvement in politics in real life.
However, compared with American voters who may now have mixed feelings about the outcome of the campaign which has been described as “surprising” by American media, Chinese ordinary “fans” of the presidential campaign are seeing the historic moment in a more recreational way, or regarding the exposure as a way to learn about the US electoral system and how does the US democracy work.
On WeChat Moments, China’s most popular chatting and message sharing app owned by Tencent, pictures and comments about the presidential election began to fill the screens from early morning on Wednesday when results in many key states were still too early to call. Someone posted a picture of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in the first presidential debate on WeChat Moments saying that “you don’t even have to check the news portals for the results, just check your WeChat Moments.”
Besides the WeChat Moments where you can only see the posts and comments of those who you have added as your WeChat friend, Sina Weibo, China’s most popular Twitter-like micro-blogging platform, was also turned into a pool of public opinion on the US presidential campaign Wednesday.
The hashtag of US Election created by the official Weibo account of CCTV has been viewed for over 1.2 billion times with over 760,000 comments as of Wednesday night. Although some may have clicked the hashtag twice, which adds to the viewing number, 1.2 billion times of viewing is quite high for a hashtag on Sina Weibo which has over 280 million active users.
The hashtag of Trump wins which was created right after Trump declared victory attracted over 150 million views and over 82,000 discussions as of Wednesday night. According to @微博热搜榜, an official account named after Weibo mainly to release the most searched topics on Weibo, the hashtag, “Trump wins”, topped the Weibo hot-search-list at 15:00 pm Wednesday with over 1.7 million times of searching.
What are they saying?
According to Zhiwei, an online data analysis platform, the tempo of the discussion on the US presidential campaign was still rising as of Wednesday night, six hours after the announcement of the outcome, and the platform also picked some of the most followed Weibo posts by some of the Weibo celebrities.
Kai-Fu Lee, ex-Google China chief, who has 50.26 million Weibo followers, described the US presidential election as “dramatic” with Trump’s chance of winning the election increasing and Hillary’s falling; Chen Li, a sociologist with 25.54 million followers, posted an article introducing how the US electoral system works three hours before the results started to come out.
With the announcement of Trump’s win, Weibo users, like the rest of the world, put all their guesswork to rest and began to think about what the result would mean for the US, China and even themselves.
“Trump’s win shows that you still need to dream, because it may really come true,” said @江苏中公金融人.
“An election between a liar and a lunatic. It seems that people would rather believe in a lunatic than suffer from a liar,” said @西京老马.
“No matter who wins, China needs to be cautious,” said @善良的猪妈妈.
In the meantime, some argued that the victory of Trump should be attributed to the US media.
“Trump has created a miracle, and American media which supported Hillary so much and tried to stop Trump so obviously have made great contribution to that outcome. The voters were so disgusted by those media that they decided to support Trump. But since they knew that their attitude may not be accepted by the mainstream society, they chose to be silent. What American media should reflect upon after the election is that do not put values over facts,” remarked Wang Zhi’an, a renowned Chinese investigative reporter and Weibo celebrity with over 750,000 followers.
“Along with Hillary, what has also been defeated in the campaign is American mainstream media. No matter how they have supported Hillary, they turned out to be wrong anyway. Public self-expression seems to be much powerful than media which were the products of the industrial era. It seems that the authority of traditional media is eroding,” echoed @张颐武.