On Tuesday, Nov. 3rd, the 2020 US Presidential Election drew attention from all around the world, including China. Considering the tense relationship between the two countries, it is not surprising. This year’s election was the hottest foreign-political topic on Chinese social media, even more heated than the 2016 election. Through social media listening, we can see what Chinese netizens say about the US 2020 election.
Chinese perceptions of the US 2020 election
On Weibo, the hashtag “U.S. election” has been used 19.36 million times in the discussion and is viewed by 12.26 billion users. By Nov. 9, there are 101 posts per hour on average and the peak reached 1,482 in an hour.
While some Chinese netizens are considering the impact of the election result; many others see it as a reality show.
Source: Weibo, translation by daxue consulting, a Chinese netizen comparing the US election to a reality TV show
Biden won more attention than Trump from Chinese netizens on Baidu
Source: Baidu Index, Chinese searches for “ US election”, “Trump” and “Biden”
It is worth noting that, compared to Donald Trump, Joe Biden got more attention from Chinese netizens. One reason is because Chinese are already familiar with Donald Trump and are interested to learn more about Joe Biden and what he stands for. The election will significantly impact the relationship between the two giant countries, and Chinese netizens are curious to know what Biden will mean for China.
On Nov.8, “Joe Biden” trended in the first place on both Weibo and Baidu, after Associated Press announced Biden’s victory. Instead of those Biden victory celebrations on American social media, the future direction after the election was the foremost concern in Chinese netizens’ minds.
“Trump rejected Biden’s victory” appeared in 8th place at the same time. Like “The possibility of a recount in Michigan or Pennsylvania” and “Would Trump win election lawsuits”, similar questions were more attractive than Biden’s victory for Chinese people.
Source: Weibo, Weibo Trending Chart by 8 AM on Nov. 8th
Trump and Biden supporters are equally split on Chinese social media
Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of the Chinese state-affiliated newspaper Global Times, a popular KOL of foreign politics in China, posted 15 times about the US election on Weibo and got over 300,000 likes in total from Nov.3 to Nov. 9.
Source: Weibo, translation by daxue consulting, the most liked posts from Hu Xijin
Under the impact of the trade war and global pandemic, Chinese people pay more attention to the US election than before. Trump’s China policy was always unpredictable, especially since the beginning of trade disputes. On the contrary, Joe Biden is considered to be more diplomatic in international affairs in the eyes of many Chinese people based on what they witness during the Obama period. Even though the result would not influence their life directly, Chinese netizens still hope Biden can relax tensions between the two countries.
Source: Weibo, translation by daxue consulting, an interview with the local restaurant owner about Biden’s visit in 2011
Why some Chinese support Trump
However, some Chinese people may support Donald Trump as the US president, for his “contribution” to China. In fact, Trump’s nickname in China is Chuan Jianguo (川建国), meaning “Trump Builds China”. Many Chinese netizens believe that under Trump’s presidency, the leadership of the U.S. has declined along with a plummeting global reputation. Therefore, they wish for Trump’s reelection to give China another 4 years to develop and rise national power.
Source: Weibo, translation by daxue consulting, a netizen explains why he supports Trump.
On Zhihu, a Chinese question-and-answer website, Chinese netizens have a deep discussion on Joe Biden’s victory in the US election. Under a topic called “how do you see a Biden victory in the 2020 US election “, 3,913 users follow this discussion and 5 million users view these answers.
Source: Zhihu, translation by daxue consulting, one of the top answers under the question “how do you see a Biden victory in the 2020 US election?” What Chinese netizens say about the US 2020 election.
Many answers agree that it is a lose-lose election. One netizen also said: “ I think Biden, who has been pushed to the front of the line in this US election, is a puppet on the Democratic Party’s strings. He is old and his cognitive and political skills are questionable. All national policies are run by forces within the Democratic Party, and there is a high probability that they will continue their pattern of uniting with their allies against China.”
China’s US election memes, jokes and puns
However, for most Chinese netizens, this election has become a source of entertainment. From the morning of Nov.4 (the evening of Nov.3 in the US), a lot of memes and jokes have been re-posted thousands of times on Weibo and Douyin.
Source: Douyin, a comment below Trump’s dance video, what Chinese say about the US 2020 election
“Waiting in vain” trending topic on the Chinese internet during the US 2020 election
Since counting ballots took a long time in key swing states, it already came to the late night of Nov.4 in Beijing time. Many Chinese citizens became impatient and made a joke based on Biden’s name– Biden (拜登) pronounced as “Baideng” (白等 )in Chinese, which means “wait in vain”.
“A friend of Trump tells him to go to bed early ‘because it is Biden (Baideng/ waiting in vain), no matter how long you wait, it is Biden (Baideng/ waiting in vain). ” A saying that emerged on Chinese social media the day afte the US 2020 election.
As for the future of US-China relations, a smart netizen said: “If Biden elected, I am really sure the relation between China and the USA gonna be normalized. Because Beijing is For-Biden City.”
Source: Weibo, “for-biden city” meme
Chinese netizens bid farewell to Trump the comedian
Even though a number of Chinese netizens hate Trump because of his anti-Chinese rhetoric and behavior, they still confessed that Trump was the most interesting president ever, and they would miss all the memes and jokes inspired by him.
“It was only when we lost Trump that we realize how great he was, that we would never see a president like him again.” One Chinese netizen expressed his feeling after the winning news from Biden, “We lost a great comedian.”
While the election was a roller-coster for all, netizens shared memes depicting the turn of events in a meme-filled display of Chinese humor.
Source: Weibo, Chinese memes about the US 2020 election, Biden and Trump engaged in a game Texas Poker
Source: Weibo, UNO – play this card and Key States will turn blue, Chinese meme about the US 2020 election.
This meme is a lighthearted play on words. In Chinese, the states Texas and Pennsylvania have the same names as neighboring cities in China’s Shandong province.
Source: Weibo, translation by daxue consulting, what Chinese say about the US 2020 election
Additionally, Chinese netizens shared the following memes on Weibo mocking how Trump handled the election results.
Source: Weibo, daxue consulting translations, Chinese memes about the US 2020 election
Chinese netizens want to know the opinions of American people
Chinese netizens are also curious about how the American people react to the US election. A video of Trevor Noah’s “The Daily Show” was popular on the Chinese internet. It was not the first time Trevor Noah went viral Chinese social media. His viewpoints are not just funny, but more importantly, he explained his thoughts and shared the feeling of American people.
In the video, he made fun of Trump’s election speech about fake votes, saying “ This is just a level of stupidity from Trump that I didn’t expect. He always exceeds levels of stupidity. I didn’t know he could go higher”
Source: Weibo, daxue consulting translation, a comment below Trevor Noah’s video
Chinese netizens react calmly to Kamala Harris’ victory
In addition to Biden’s victory, another congratulation should give to Kamala Harris, the Vice-President-elect. She is the first female vice-president, and also the first black and South Asian American vice president. Chinese people may be more familiar with her another name, He Jinli (贺锦丽). He Jinli was named by Harris herself, meaning successful intricate beauty in Chinese.
However, for Chinese netizens, the victory of the first female US vise president is not a reason for celebration. Even though Harris herself is an inspiration for feminists in China and pride of Asian-Americans, her hostile policy to China and the legalization of marijuana in California are far away from Chinese netizen’s opinions.
Source: Zhihu, “How do you see Kamala Harris as the first female, African-American, Indian-American vice president of the United States? What are her political ideas and what changes might she bring about?” What Chinese say about the US 2020 election
Chinese netizens reactions to the US 2020 election show a variety of views and beliefs
On social media platforms like Weibo and Douyin, Chinese netizens show more of a standby attitude to the US election. Memes and jokes were abundant during this quadrennial event, mostly mocking Trump, as he has certainly left a huge impact on Chinese netizens these last four years. Some netizens bid farewell to the comedian who helped build China, while others hope for a more cooperative future.
Zhihu users are more serious than Weibo’s. Naturally, the platform is designed for deep discussions about social topics like politics. They focus on the direction of Biden’s China policy in the future.