• Overseas students weigh in on “bizarre” campaign.
As a majority of Americans feel turned off by the tenor of the presidential campaign, Chinese students in the US have been watching it closely and have no shortage of observations.
Calling the presidential campaign “the most bizarre and polarized” in US history, Liu Tianyuan, a senior majoring in finance at University of TexasAustin McCombs School of Business, said the race between Romney and Obama four years ago seemed like “an old boring history textbook” compared to this year’s contest.
“Instead of campaigning on practical policies and visionary goals, both candidates have heavily relied on tactics aimed at destroying the other candidate, constantly delivering messages like ‘Never Hillary’ and ‘ Dump Trump,’” said Liu, who came from Wuhan, Hubei province, to the US in 2010.
Cao Yuan, 19, a sophomore majoring in journalism and psychology at the University of Iowa, said what impressed him the most were the scandals surrounding both candidates.
“I think whoever wins the election would not be friendly towards China and the Chinese would face discrimination in the US,” said Cao, who arrived in the US two years ago after graduating from high school.
Trump is conservative with his anti-immigrant plans like “building a wall” and a “ban on Muslims”, while Clinton is known for her “return to AsiaPacific” strategy to contain China’s influence, said Cao.
“But compared with Clinton, Trump is a businessman. I think a Trump presidency may lead to a less assertive US policy toward China,” he said.
Liu disagreed, saying a Trump victory would be much more “dangerous”. Better the devil you know than the devil you do not, he said.
“Hillary Clinton is the known ‘devil’ — someone China has extensive experience dealing with; Donald Trump is the unpredictable naughty one, potentially causing unbelievable damage to the current world system,” he said.
“On the economic side, the difference is even more alarming,” Liu argued. “A Trump victory and the corresponding anti-globalization theme will greatly harm China’s already slowing economy. China’s prosperity still greatly depends on trade, and anti-trade is one of Trump’s central themes.”
He said his reason for supporting Clinton was that “her experience and temperament will definitely help stabilize an already shaky world”, though she might not be the ideal candidate.
“With Brexit, zero-interest rates, skyrocketing debt levels and a slowdown in developing countries, the world has enough uncertainty,” he said.
He He, a graduate student at the Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, said many of his fellow students had been following the campaigny, watching the three debates and discussing them on social media.
“Yet we don’t know about who will be more or less ‘close’ to China,” he said. “Trump aims to bring offshore manufacturing jobs back to the US, which could damage China’s export businesses, while at the same time, Chinese businesses are opening up factories in the US, and Trump may push that forward.”
Some Chinese students don’t care about the election or believe it’s wiser to keep themselves out of politics.
“This year’s election is like a drama. We gathered at the dining hall and watched the presidential debate together. It was pretty fun,” said Du Hui, 25, a graduate student at Pratt Institute in New York.
“Actually, I don’t really care about the election. There is nothing we can do about the result,” said Du, who came to the US from Nanjing in 2011.
“In terms of their policies toward China, I think no matter what they said in the campaign, it still takes a long time to get plans realized,” he said. “China is now a super nation that the US would not easily neglect or offend it.
China is now a super nation that the US would not easily neglect or offend it.” Du Hui, graduate student at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn