- Donald Trump has found an unlikely group of supporters – in China.
- There was an outpouring of support for Trump on Weibo after he said he could 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 found a group of ardent supporters on Chinese social media as his claims of impending arrest ricocheted across the internet.
On Saturday, news of Trump’s possible indictment skyrocketed to the top of the rankings on Twitter-like platform Weibo at 11:30 p.m. Beijing time. The hashtag “Trump says he will be arrested soon” was the 5th most-read topic on Weibo on Saturday night, with more than 59 million views.
It was moments after Trump wrote on Truth Social on Saturday that he would 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 there was no information from the Manhattan prosecutor’s office that Trump would be “arrested,” as Trump claimed, but took care not to directly challenge its customers’ Truth Social messaging, Insider reported.
“President Trump is basing himself on press reports,” Necheles told Insider.
With the hashtag going viral on Weibo, there has also been 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 not to give up and fight any criminal charges with all his might.
“Donald Trump, don’t back down. America is big enough to be split in two. Do what you gotta do, MAGA!” read a comment.
“If Trump is arrested, it will signal the corruption of the American mind,” read another comment.
“Trump, America needs you,” wrote one Weibo commenter.
Some Weibo commenters called on his “redneck followers” to “rally around their king”. Others called Trump a “comrade” – a term commonly used to refer to Chinese officials including Chinese leader Xi Jinping – and encouraged him to “move forward courageously”.
Trump’s critics also talked about Weibo, but they far outnumbered his supporters.
“Can’t wait for the old asshole to be arrested and imprisoned,” one comment read.
“This madman needs to be locked up or he’ll be spouting nonsense all day,” another Weibo user wrote.
And some Weibo commenters thought the very idea of Trump’s indictment was exciting, comparing his eventual arrest to events on a reality TV show.
“How fun! When does the broadcast start?” read a comment from a Weibo user.
Weibo is a platform tightly controlled and rigorously censored by the Chinese government. The fact that the viral thread – and the comments above – were not quickly scrubbed from the platform is a strong indicator that such pro-Trump talk is something the Chinese government allows.
It’s no surprise that some Chinese don’t want Trump indicted, or a potential prison sentence derailing his 2024 presidential ambitions.
Researchers at the Brookings Institution think tank wrote in 2016 that some segments of the Chinese population saw Trump as a boon to Beijing, seeing him as the presidential candidate who would focus more on building trade ties. CNN reported in 2020 that some Chinese social media users viewed Trump as a better candidate than President Joe Biden – assuming he would help build China by ruining America.
Meanwhile, a possible indictment in New York now hangs over Trump.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is investigating whether Trump’s payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels violate New York’s election and documentary laws. Bragg is also investigating whether these payments should be considered illegal Trump campaign spending.
Daniels says she had an affair with Trump in 2006. Trump has always denied ever having an affair with Daniels. He also denies paying her $130,000 to keep quiet about the relationship ahead of the 2016 election.
A spokesperson for Trump and Weibo representatives at Sina did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.