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- Donald Trump has found an unlikely group of supporters — in China.
- There was a deluge of support for Trump on Weibo after he said he may be arrested on Tuesday.
- Trump-loving Chinese users urged him to fight the indictment, calling him a “comrade” and a “king.”
Former President Donald Trump has found a group of ardent supporters on Chinese social media as his claims of a looming arrest ricocheted across the Internet.
On Saturday, news of a possible Trump indictment skyrocketed to the top of the charts on the Twitter-like Weibo platform at 11.30 p.m., Beijing time. The hashtag “Trump says he’ll be arrested soon” was the 5th most-read topic on Weibo on Saturday night, with more than 59 million views.
This was moments after Trump wrote Saturday on Truth Social that he will be arrested in New York next week. Trump’s claim about a possible arrest was not based on any facts released by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.
Susan Necheles, the former president’s lead defense attorney, said Saturday no information came from the Manhattan DA’s office that Trump would be “arrested,” as Trump claimed, but was cautious not to directly dispute her clients’ Truth Social post, Insider reported.
“President Trump is basing this on press reports,” Necheles told Insider.
With the hashtag going viral on Weibo, there was also an outpouring of support for Trump on the platform. A slew of Trump-loving Weibo commenters — who made up the majority of the hundreds of posts seen by Insider — encouraged him to not give up and fight any criminal indictment with all his strength.
“Donald Trump, don’t back down. America is big enough to be split into two. Do what you need to do, MAGA!” read one comment.
“If Trump is arrested, it will signal the corruption of the American spirit,” another comment read.
“Trump, America needs you,” a Weibo commenter wrote.
Some Weibo commenters called on his “redneck supporters” to “rally around their king.” Others called Trump their “comrade” — a term commonly used to refer to Chinese officials, including Chinese leader Xi Jinping — and encouraged him to “move forward bravely.”
Trump’s detractors did speak up on Weibo too, but they were far outnumbered by his supporters.
“I’m looking forward to the old asshole being arrested and imprisoned,” read one comment.
“This lunatic needs to be locked up, or he’ll be spouting nonsense all day long,” another Weibo user wrote.
And some Weibo commenters just thought the whole idea of Trump being indicted was exciting, likening his possible arrest to events on a reality TV show.
“How fun! When does the broadcast begin?” read a comment from one Weibo user.
Weibo is a platform that is tightly controlled and rigorously censored by the Chinese government. That the viral thread — and the above comments — were not quickly scrubbed from the platform is a good indicator that such pro-Trump discourse is something the Chinese government is allowing to happen.
It is not surprising that some Chinese people don’t want Trump to be indicted, or for a possible jail term to derail his 2024 presidential ambitions.
Researchers from the Brookings Institution think tank wrote in 2016 that some segments of the Chinese populace saw Trump as a boon for Beijing, viewing him as the presidential candidate who would focus more on boosting trade ties. CNN reported in 2020 that some Chinese social media users viewed Trump as a better candidate than President Joe Biden — surmising that he would help build China up by ruining America.
Meanwhile, a possible indictment in New York now looms over Trump.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is investigating if Trump’s payments to the adult film actress, Stormy Daniels, violate New York election and document laws. Bragg is also investigating if these payments should be considered an illegal Trump campaign expense.
Daniels says she had an affair with Trump in 2006. Trump has consistently denied that he ever had an affair with Daniels. He also denies that he paid her $130,000 to keep quiet about the relationship before the 2016 election.
A spokesman for Trump and representatives for Weibo at Sina did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Insider.