Now, Chinese audiences respond.
Trump has accused China of “raping” the U.S. He’s bragged about selling $15 million houses to Chinese buyers. He’s declared the country will suck the “blood out of the United States” -- all before asking “How can you not love China?” It's one of Trump’s favorite props to bludgeon President Barack Obama and declare the death of the American dream.
So what do the Chinese people and government make of Trump and his bizarre fixation with their country?
When The Huffington Post’s video appeared on Chinese social media platforms, it garnered hundreds of thousands of hits and thousands of comments. Chief among topics of debate was Trump’s actual stance towards China. Many commenters don't know what to make of him -- just like many Americans.
“His love for China is engraved across his heart,” wrote one (likely sarcastic) commenter on the microblog site Sina Weibo.
On China’s most popular video-sharing site, Youku, fans of "The Apprentice" lamented that their hero appeared to spit out their country’s name with such disdain.
“Don’t get it wrong – this guy doesn’t love China. When he’s making money he’s pro-China, but when he starts to lose money he’s super anti-China,” wrote another Sina Weibo user. “He’s just a clown.”
Trump’s sometimes bizarre pronunciation had other English-language learners reeling:
“Why does it sound like he’s saying ‘Chanel’ at the end?”
“I’m not the only one who hears ‘vagina’...”
Chinese state media has been relatively muted in response to Trump, often omitting his rants about China when covering his campaign. That’s surprising given the level of vitriol state media routinely flings at Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, and the fact that Trump’s words and actions actually play well with the Chinese Communist Party’s own propaganda.
In Trump’s world, China’s wily technocrats are constantly outsmarting muddling American politicians -- “take the New England Patriots and Tom Brady and have them play your high school football team,” he has said. That narrative goes hand-in-glove with the Communist Party’s self-image as a meritocratic system of capable leaders unburdened by the baggage of electoral politics.
At the same time, Trump’s brand of reality-show-as-politics feeds the second part of that equation: propaganda portrayals of Western democracies as hopelessly mired in indecision and demagoguery.
In an op-ed in the state-controlled Liberation Daily, one academic described Trump’s success as a "full indication of the degeneration of the American democratic system." Another piece for online portal Sina World Weekly catalogued the many oddities of the current electoral field -- from Trump to joke candidate Deez Nuts -- and asked: "Does Anyone Think the American Election is Real?"
Comments below this and other articles revealed both the impact and the limitations of this kind of coverage. While some users oozed cynicism over American electoral democracy, others turned the spotlight back on China.
“So this is what those public intellectuals are talking about with one-person-one-vote,” snickered one commenter. “Is this democracy?
“If only they could be as democratic as us,” sneered another Sina Weibo poster. “Five years before the election it’s already been decided who wins.”