New this fortnight: Chinese intellectuals who support Trump. I had encountered such people in passing before, and dismissed them as strategic thinkers of the “the-enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend” variety, in other words, Liberals who hoped Trump would be a thorn in Xi Jinping’s side. But having read Lin Yao’s fascinating piece on “Beaconism and the Trumpian Metamorphosis of Chinese Liberal Intellectuals,” and having discussed the issue with the Wall Street Journal’s Sha Hua, who is writing her own piece on the question, I decided to take a closer look. The three texts translated from Liberal authors offer variations on a theme: the sociologist Sun Liping praises Trump for attacking political correctness, comparing this attack to the “liberate thought” movement in China in the early 1980s, and suggesting that both represent a return to “normal;” legal scholar Wang Jianxun praises Trump for restoring the “American spirit,” which he defines as “Ayn Rand plus the Bible;” the well-known constitutional scholar Gao Quanxi (together with his colleague Tian Feilong) sees both Trump’s election and Brexit in England as the return of a sensible “Burkean” conservatism, successfully challenging a “borderless” expansion of rights discourse. The fourth text, by the well-known New Left political scientist Cui Zhiyuan reveals a surprising fascination with former Trump advisor Steve Bannon. No author mentions Trump’s anti-China rhetoric, and all treat Trump’s rhetoric with what to me was a suprising seriousness.
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