Now that Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee, the prospect of his presidency is being taken seriously — and by "seriously" I mean "with a paralyzing panic." It's abundantly clear that not everyone is thrilled with the possibility of President Trump. Among those is China, which Trump hasn't been the friendliest to in the past. In a Wednesday press conference, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei urged Americans to be "reasonable and objective" in the context of Trump as Republican nominee. When even China is worried about Trump, you know things are getting real.
When asked whether he was "nervous" that Trump may become president, especially in light of Trump's antagonistic stance on United States-China trade, Hong replied:
We hope the U.S. people from all walks of life would view bilateral relations from a reasonable and objective perspective.
"Reasonable and objective" are certainly not the first words that come to mind when describing Trump. While hardly a denunciation of the Donald, Hong's concise note of caution to American voters reveals, I believe, that the Chinese government may be starting to be seriously concerned about a potential President Trump. The exchange with Hong also reveals that Trump, now that he has no Republican competition, can no longer be brushed off by China. Heck, Trump hasn't even gotten the official nomination, and he has already become a hot topic at its Foreign Ministry's press conferences.
On the election itself, Hong played it safe and said, "The U.S. presidential election is its domestic affairs. We have no comment on what is happening now with the election." Hong may not have comments, but others do. On Thursday, People's Daily, an official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, ran an editorial saying the "scenario is becoming increasingly serious."
China is right to pay more attention to the Donald considering Trump's position on U.S.-China trade. Just this past Sunday, Trump said at a rally in Indiana, "We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country." (What a step up from his previously favorite phrase in many debates and rallies: "They're killing us!") He's also proposed a 45 percent tariff on imported Chinese goods. Moreover, his "America First" foreign policy and xenophobic rhetoric could certainly mean major upheavals in bilateral relations.
Now, keep in mind that China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson almost certainly wasn't worried about Trump because he believes the reality TV business mogul undermines truth, justice, and the American way. After all, China isn't exactly a democracy. Rather, there are concerns that Trump could shake up China's already delicate relationship with the United States. As Hong said in the same press conference, "It is worth pointing out that mutual benefit and win-win results are defining features of economic cooperation and trade between China and the U.S., and meet the common interests of both." Bottom lines, not core values, were the concern.
Still, it's significant that one of the countries the United States works closest with is beginning to view Trump as formidable — and possibly as a threat to stability. As November nears, I predict that more and more countries will focus a wary eye on Trump.