People in the United States and other Western countries may have called Donald J. Trump a lot of different names, but in China, many people are addressing him as “Chuan Da Ye.”
“Chuan” is the Chinese pronunciation for Trump. “Da” means big or great, and “Ye” means grandfather, grandpa, or more broadly, an elderly male. So “Chuan Da Ye” can be roughly translated as “Powerful Grandpa Trump.”
For people who know the Chinese language well, the words “Da Ye” together carry connotations of affirmation, respect, affection, authority, capability, and more. When people call someone “Da Ye,” it often means that they are willing to follow this person, at least morally. And they would rather side with this man than oppose him.
Although the Party-controlled official Chinese media has been depicting the West and the United States as “the hostile force in the West,” many Chinese netizens who know how to “jump over” the Great Fire Wall of China show their affection towards Trump by calling him “Chuan Da Ye.” They like his toughness, his personality, and the fact that he is super rich and successful.
A deeper meaning underlying the nickname is the fact that, in the eyes of some Chinese people, Trump is daring to stand up against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which has been suppressing its own people for decades.
As they themselves might not have the courage or ability to fight against the CCP, many Chinese netizens are happy to see Trump doing so.
For example, when a vaccine scandal broke out recently in China, with hundreds of thousands of children being exposed to ineffective DPT vaccines, many angry Chinese parents flooded the Chinese social media accounts of the U.S. Embassy in China. They left numerous comments and asked the Trump administration to “get rid of this evil government.”
Some even marked on maps the coordinates of the two factories that falsified data and sold ineffective vaccines and asked the United States to destroy these factories that produce “chemical weapons” with Tomahawk cruise missiles.
People remembered that no justice had followed the 2008 baby formula scandal in China, which, according to official numbers, sickened 300,000 babies, hospitalized 54,000, and killed six.
Some Chinese intellectuals, commentators, and democracy advocates have said they think Trump can achieve more than just a “Da Ye,” by bringing about political changes through economic means.
Jin Yan, a Chinese commentator, wrote in an article that since Trump became president, the world had seen changes that haven’t happened since the Cold War.
He thinks that Trump has easily defeated the CCP’s “Hezong” (vertical integration) efforts with his own “Lianheng” (horizontal integration) strategies.
Both “Hezong” and “Lianheng” are very famous Chinese strategies dating back to as early as the Warring States Period (475–221 B.C.). During that time, smaller countries tried to form different alliances to fight together against bigger countries.
Jin thinks that although China wanted to adopt the “Hezong” strategy and form an alliance with Europe to oppose America during the trade war, Trump somehow turned the tables on the Chinese regime and reached a “zero tariffs” and “zero subsidies” understanding with Europe instead.
He believes that Japan, Australia, Canada, and even Russia will follow suit and become closer with the United States than with China. He believes Trump is a great strategist.
Wang Shan, a Chinese language correspondent for French current affairs radio station RFI, thinks that both Trump’s “enemies” and “friends” have all underestimated him, especially his determination to not let other countries to take advantage of the United States, as well as his determination to end the unfair trade orders formed in the past 30 years. Because of that determination, Trump did things his own way, even while world leaders and media were condemning him, said Wang.
Wang thinks the world has also underestimated Trump’s ability to declare economic war against the world. Since Trump took office, the U.S. economy has outperformed many other economies and has become stronger and stronger. Therefore, Trump has enough “ammunition” to carry out a war against unfair trade relations.
On the other hand, countries like China have become very dependent on the United States, even while they harmed it on a long-term basis. If the trade war deepens, the Chinese regime will have nothing with which to fight back. Having far fewer imports from the United States than exports, the regime can’t match U.S. tariffs.
Tang Hao, a Chinese commentator, thinks that Trump is fighting a “comprehensive war” against the CCP.
“The trade war between the United States and China is not an international trade war as it appears on the surface,” Tang said. “It is, in fact, a war between the nature of the CCP and humanity, and a war between the universal principles of the international world and the CCP’s party culture. It is also a war between the evil and the righteous led by the United States and joined by the world.”
Chen Kuide, chief editor of “China In Perspective,” an online Chinese-language magazine, thinks that Trump has created “a new era.”
“In the beginning, many people, including myself, had very negative views about Trump. He does have many flaws,” Chen told a reporter from the Chinese edition of The Epoch Times. “However, he has created a new era with his political and economic instincts.”
Chen said that Trump has successfully broken through the status quo formed since last century and made it possible for real changes to happen.
UCLA Anderson Forecast economist William Yu thinks that Trump has a strong will to help China reform and become a better country, with a better economic system.
“Trump is very firm, and has a strong sense of right and wrong,” Yu said. “In terms of international politics, he fears nothing and is very courageous. I feel he resembles Reagan of 30 years ago a lot.
“In the 1980s, the Soviet Union fought with the United States led by Reagan and ended up collapsing in the end. The situation is the same with China now.
“I don’t think the result will be too good for China if it continues to fight against America. Many unexpected results could follow. The best way is to work with Trump.”
A photo of Trump shaking hands with Reagan has been widely shared on Chinese social media, with the following photo caption added, in Chinese: “Reagan to Trump: ‘Let me get rid of the Communist Party in Soviet Union first; you find some opportunity to get rid of the CCP in the future.’ Trump to Reagan: ‘OK! Deal!’”