China

Chinese media wary of President Trump

President Donald Trump delivers his inaugural address on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption President Donald Trump has threatened to impose a 45% tariff on Chinese goods

The mood in China regarding Donald Trump's presidency ranges from one of caution to apprehension.

The media here were ordered to tread carefully when covering Mr Trump's inauguration. We know this because government censorship instructions were leaked in the week leading up to the event.

Perhaps because of the time difference, many Chinese newspapers didn't initially cover the transition of power in Washington.

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Others, though, went to press with very late additions specifically so they could.

The front page headline in the Cankao Xiaoxi news paper (run by Xinhua wire service) read: "The World takes a worried look as Trump moves into the White House."

Beijing Youth Daily carried the perhaps more neutral headline: "America Welcomes the Trump Era."

Image caption Censorship instructions from the Chinese government were leaked before the inauguration

News websites have referred to America tearing itself apart as Donald Trump is sworn in. One spoke of chaos in Washington as the new president starts to dismantle Obamacare.

The People's Daily - seen at the voice of the Chinese Communist Party - wrote of the need for "win-win" co-operation between Beijing and Washington. Yet many here are wondering just how possible that is going to be.

After all, the incoming US leader has accused China for inventing climate change to steal US jobs.

President Xi Jinping's administration not only takes the view that man-made climate change is real and must be tackled, but also says trade barriers will harm the global economy, meaning that American consumers will also suffer.

Image caption Chinese media has taken a cautious tone on President Trump's arrival

At this time of year in Beijing, foreign correspondents are invited to a series of government receptions celebrating the imminent arrival of the Year of the Rooster. At these functions we are able to chat over drinks with diplomats, soldiers, PR people and various bureaucrats.

Something that becomes clear from such discussions is the level of restraint being imposed on Chinese officials when it comes to Donald Trump and his incoming cabinet's views on Taiwan, trade, the South China Sea and regional power.

After a few glasses of wine they'll let you know privately what they would love to say publicly: "45% tariffs? Seriously?" "Does he think we wouldn't defend our right to access islands in the South China Sea?" "I mean who does he think he is?" "How dare he?"

Now that Mr Trump has been sworn in the need to be polite about him and his team might not be so important.

With very different worldviews in these global seats of power, this looks set to make for a rocky relationship.

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