CLEVELAND – Donald Trump is huge in China.
Despite his regular bashing of the nation on the campaign trail, Chinese viewers are fascinated by the election, and see Trump as an admirable businessman and an entertainment success, said a Chinese TV correspondent covering the campaign.
Trump’s reality TV show, The Apprentice, “is a big hit back in China. People watch it, my friends watch it,” said Wang Guan, chief political correspondent for CCTV America’s Mandarin Service.
He is one of hundreds of foreign journalists covering the convention, many of who say their audience have shown a very high interest in the American presidential campaign.
“To the Chinese, they are big fans of Mr. Trump because if you look at what happened to China in the past 30 years, China has been very pro-business, and people want to get rich,” Guan said, “though it’s also true that many people back home are offended by his racist remarks and tendency to resort to China-bashing.”
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In Australia, the GOP convention also seems like reality TV. “When Australians look at this convention, they will say, ‘Wow, such a big show,’” said Seven Network Australia’s U.S. Bureau Chief Mike Amor.
Australians are taking the U.S. election seriously because of the close relationship between the two countries, “but we also see this as a tremendous sideshow,” he said.
“We just had an election in Australia and we have (people) complaining that the election was the longest ever,” Amor said. “It went on for eight weeks. Can you imagine?”
When Trump first announced his intention to run for president last year, media in other countries often did not take him seriously. Now, as he is only a step away from the presidency, reporting on the rise of Trump is a global phenomenon.
“In the U.S., it seems like quite a large number of people endorse him and support him. That’s why the (German) interest in this convention has been pretty big as well,” said Daniel Pontzen, U.S. correspondent for ZDF German Television.
While in Germany, Pontzen said, there are more people opposing Trump than supporting him.
In France, people are more focused on domestic events after the recent terrorist attack in Nice and earlier bombings in Paris. But the French are still paying attention to whether America is going to pick Clinton as their first female president or return a Republican to the White House after eight years of President Obama.
“How he molds the Republican face against Hillary is very interesting to see,” said Bruce Frankel, senior producer of French Television 1, who has been covering the conventions since 1998.
In the Middle East, because of terrorist attacks and military tension in the region, “the outcome of the election would be very crucial,” said Lebanese writer and political analyst Joe Macaron, who is covering the convention for The New Arab.
“Unlike four years ago, when the election was not very contested, this year we have candidates who are not very liked. … The outcome might be very decisive” for U.S. foreign policy, said Macaron.
“If Hillary Clinton wins, it will be more or less be the continuation of the Obama policy,” said Macaron. “With Donald Trump, we have a little bit of a more unpredictable outcome.”
The international media in Cleveland also are covering the protests outside the Quicken Loans Arena, which some have feared could turn violent before the week is over.
While the foreign journalists such as Guan do express concerns about their safety at this year’s GOP convention, Guan said he is “prepared for any contingencies going on. It is our job to cover the issue.”
Amor from Australia also said he is not overly concerned about security, but he said Ohio gun laws are shocking.
“It’s nuts that you can bring a gun to outside the convention,” he said, “but you cannot bring a water pistol or tennis ball or piece of rope. It’s crazy!”