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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Columns

Similarities between Trump and China’s leader abound


Most people who think of communism probably think first of Russia, then China: two countries that seem to be political polar opposites of the United States. But China’s president and leader of the communist party, Xi Jinping, isn’t the compartmentalized type of communist leader.

President Donald Trump’s meeting with Xi at Mar-a-Lago resort was one of the most important meetings of the administration so far. How will their similarities and differences dictate the productivity of this high-profile act of foreign relations and diplomacy?

How the two countries will interact with each other in terms of foreign policy and trade still mostly remains to be determined. Yet the pasts of the two leaders can say a lot about why they act the way they do.

The history of communist rule in China began in 1949 after the communists won a 20-year civil war. The government has shown brutal strength toward detractors, from revolutions in 1966 to the Tiananmen Square Massacre of 1989.

After many leaders had a single-decade reign, 2012 saw the biggest governmental scandal in the country’s history. Former leader Bo Xilai was accused and found guilty of bribery, corruption and abuse of power in March of 2012. Xi became president the following year.

China runs its communist party with an iron fist. The Chinese Communist Party has more than 80 million members and has control over flow of information. Xi, in comparison, is quite the black sheep. Though he and Trump share a few similarities, there are some key points where they differ.

Trump and Xi present themselves to people in a similar manner. Xi seems to straddle the line of appearing tough and personal simultaneously. Trump might portray visceral tactics more often, but he does posses the emblematic Republican charisma.

Xi got into the communist party by way of nepotism because his father, Xi Zhongxun, was one of the party’s founding fathersTrump’s fortune is a result of his father’s labors, especially from his infamous statement that his father only gave him a “small business loan of a million dollars.”

Their campaigns preached a high amount of patriotism. Trump has “Make America Great Again,” and Xi introduced the “Chinese Dream:” a hope to strengthen the nation based on “Chinese path…spirit… (and) strength.”

There are two main differences between these two diplomats. Xi was sent to live in a remote village as a child. This shaped his view on life; the locals described him as “sincere” and “honest.” Xi’s platform heavily focuses on dismantling corruption. He believes that if the government cannot handle an issue, then it should be left up to the people.

The contrast here is more of a characteristic difference. Living in a remote village during his formative years gave Xi insight into living modestly. His spearheading of anti-corruption policies just screams the opposite of Trump, based on what each represents. It seems that Trump would make a better communist leader on paper.

I wonder if Trump will loosen ties with China. His rhetoric has been harsh; in seemingly every speech he describes China “raping” America in trade deals. It remains to be determined what sort of policy Xi has planned in reaction to the trade deals the Trump administration has proposed. Whatever happens, the clash of morale and ego will be fun to analyze.

Senior staff columnist Dana Jones is a broadcast journalism junior and can be reached at [email protected]

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