US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has once again played the “China card” with a promise to “bring back jobs” to America to rouse supporters on Sunday at a rally in his last-ditch attempt to win the swing state of Nevada.
With the election taking place on November 8, Nevada – one of a handful of key western swing states – has seen a trend that favours Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton, as registered Democrats had established a seven-point lead over registered Republicans in the state’s early vote totals, according to statistics from the Office of the Nevada Secretary of State.
Trump could not resist bringing out the “China card” and blaming Beijing for the United States’ loss of jobs as he returned to “The Silver State” – a nickname dating back to the silver rush of the 1800s – for the second time in a month to address a few hundred supporters at the luxury hotel, The Venetian, in Las Vegas.
On Saturday US Vice-President Joe Biden had held a rally in Nevada in support of Clinton.
“America has lost 70,000 factories since China entered the World Trade Organisation. Another Bill and Hillary-backed deal,” Trump told the cheering crowd at his rally on Sunday.
“They come in. They take our jobs. They take our products. They make a fortune. And we owe them 1.5 trillion dollars,” said Trump when he referred to the US’ trade deficit and the debt it owed to China.
Some Trump supporters at the rally told the South China Morning Post that they supported the Republican policy to stop illegal immigrants, and that they were disheartened by the email scandal facing Clinton.
Post journalists are in the US to cover the presidential election, including providing analysis on how Asian Americans view the vote and its impact on relations between the US, China and Asia.
At Sunday’s rally Trump promised he would “stand up to China” if he became the next US president, while claiming that he had a “great relationship with China” and that he “makes a lot of money in China”.
The Republican candidate’s message could appeal to Nevada as it is one of the few swing states that has unemployment rates that are higher than the national average after being hit hard by the recession and the bursting housing bubble, although the state has seen a drastic economic recovery. Its unemployment rate is now down to 5.8 per cent.
Nevada also has one of the lowest rates of university education in the country – with only 23 per cent of its population having a degree, which is believed to favourable to Trump who traditionally enjoys support among non-university-educated whites.
But the percentage of white population in Nevada – currently at 51 per cent – is shrinking compared with fast-growing Latino population, which has almost reached 30 per cent, according to the US Census Bureau.
The influence of Asian American and Pacific Islanders has also grown as they account for 8.3 per cent of Nevada’s population, the 2010 US Census shows.
Hilarmen Valdez, a Filipino American, who immigrated to the US more than 30 years ago, said at the rally that she supported Trump’s policy on banning illegal immigrants.
“It’s good to have the wall,” she said. “We use the main door for people to come in.”
Valdez also said Clinton’s email scandal, which has come back to haunt her campaign as the FBI suggested reopening its inquiries, was one of the reasons why she was against the Democratic candidate. She said she believed the US justice department was in “collusion” with Clinton and was protecting her from being charged.
“One thing I don’t like about Hillary is that the corruption is in our face,” she said. “We came from a [developing] country where there is red tape and corruption,” she said. “When I came to America, I felt good because we don’t have to go though that [same] system. But now the corruption is in our face.”
The rising influence of Asian Americans in Nevada has led to increasing efforts by the rival candidates to reach out to them.
Both Clinton and Trump have dedicated a full page advert – in Chinese – in the past few days up until the day of the election in a local newspaper called Las Vegas Chinese Daily News, which has an ethnic Chinese readership.
“This is the first time I have seen a presidential candidate buying a full page ad in Chinese and specially address Chinese voters, Antonia Ying, a Las Vegas police officer, who moved from Hong Kong to the US in 1972.
“They never cared for the Chinese population before. Now they do.”
Ying also said Nevada had seen increasing political participation among Asian Americans in recent years as local groups had boosted their efforts to encourage voter turnout among Nevada’s Asian population.
A local group led by Chinese Americans in Las Vegas hosted a voting education workshop on Sunday and provided a shuttle bus service to the voting station for first-time Chinese American voters.