In officially accepting the Republican nomination for President, Donald Trump vowed to put “America first” and put forward a credo of “Americanism, not globalism.”
While the speech was mainly focused on domestic issues, Trump singled out China as a beneficiary of what he described as the decline of the U.S.
“(Hillary Clinton) supported China’s entrance into the World Trade Organization — another one of her husband’s colossal mistakes,” Trump told the Cleveland crowd.
He vowed to stop “China’s outrageous theft of intellectual property, along with their illegal product dumping, and their devastating currency manipulation,” and vowed to renegotiate trade deals with Beijing.
China has long been a favorite target for Trump, he has blamed Beijing repeatedly for America’s woes. However, a CNN Reality Check found that many of his arguments were out of date or wrong, particularly regarding alleged currency manipulation.
On Twitter, many international observers reacted with shock to Trump’s speech, with some drawing parallels between it and foreign strongmen.
Gary Kasparov, former World Chess Champion turned dissident Russian politician, said “I’ve heard this sort of speech a lot in the last 15 years and trust me, it doesn’t sound any better in Russian.”
Trump’s speech, he said, was “demagoguery 101.”
Jorge Guajardo, former Mexican ambassador to China, said “sorry U.S. The world is looking tonight and you, you ain’t looking good.”
Mexico has long been a target of Trump’s ire, and he used his speech to repeat calls to “build a wall” on the southern border of the U.S.
British historian Simon Schama said Trump’s speech was “protectionism added to isolationism — recipe for catastrophe. Plus big dose of Sinophobia.”
Bret Stephens, foreign affairs columnist for the conservative Wall Street Journal, said Trump’s speech was “a relentless, unyielding, humorless, hectoring appeal to fear and loathing.”
Other foreign policy experts were unimpressed by Trump’s blaming of the Obama administration, and Hillary Clinton specifically, for the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, pointing out that the group predates 2009, when Obama assumed office.
Not everyone was critical, anti-immigrant Dutch politician Geert Wilders said Trump had a “great speech.” Wilders, who has said the U.S. “can’t afford” a Clinton presidency, previously praised Trump’s immigration policy, telling the Wall Street Journal politicians who ignore calls for restrictions on people entering the country are “very stupid.”
The international press reaction to Trump’s rise has been largely negative, with Russian outlets being among the few to actively praise the Republican nominee.
China’s nationalistic state-run tabloid Global Times quoted scholars who were “stumped” by Trump’s success.
“At the very beginning, we didn’t expect American disgust with Washington and Wall Street to have such a powerful impact on the U.S. general election,” Jin Canrong, deputy director of the Center of American Studies at the Renmin University of China, told the paper.
El Pais, Spain’s highest circulation newspaper, said Trump’s speech offered a “grim vision of America.” While the UK’s Daily Telegraph described the speech as “deeply pessimistic” and said fact-checkers were “highly critical,” it highlighted a CNN instant poll that found that 56% of Americans who watched the speech responded positively.
British opinion writers from both sides of the political spectrum took a negative view of the speech, with Max Hastings writing in the right-wing tabloid The Daily Mail that the prospect of Trump winning the Presidency “will give sleepless nights to many world leaders, both America’s friends and foes.”
In the Guardian, David Smith argues that “the ability of this demagogue to play the crowd, switching its anger on and off like a tap, carries too many echoes of the past century to ignore.”