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Trump viral on China social media

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Despite US President-elect Donald Trump’s tough talk on trade, inside China there’s growing support for him online – some of which is being propelled by state-controlled media.

Shortly after the election, an old video of Mr Trump’s four-year-old granddaughter reciting Tang Dynasty poetry took off on China’s Sina Weibo network.

The video was originally posted on Instagram by Trump’s daughter Ivanka in February, to celebrate Chinese New Year.

On 13 November, Global Times, a Chinese nationalist newspaper, reposted it and it has since racked up more than 10 million views.

Comments are overwhelmingly positive, with users saying that they hope “the little angel can fall in love with Chinese culture” and that “Trump’s family are welcome to visit China”.

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A very different photo of a child went viral the following day, when Global Times published an image showing a five-year-old Iraqi girl whose skin had been turned black after a chemical explosion in Mosul.

The widespread reaction to that photo was to blame Hillary Clinton. Users called her obscene names and criticised her “tacit support” for military action against the so-called Islamic State.

One Weibo user going by the name “Broken Egg” picked up on a Trump campaign theme: “I know why the (Clinton) presidential campaign failed… Because her support for IS was exposed in emailgate”.

Candidate fan pages

Although the Chinese media maintains a strict, unified message on international affairs, social media allows users to create dedicated online fan pages for high-profile figures.

Prior to 2015, Sina Weibo had an unofficial Hillary Clinton fan club with over 350,000 followers.

It’s not known who ran the group, but it presented Mrs Clinton in a positive light as a woman in a position of authority, and was frequented by young Chinese women, many of whom said they aspired to be like her.

However, following her announcement that she intended to run for president, the group was suddenly suspended.

Similar platforms were launched for the Republican candidate. Early in the year, a Weibo fan page emerged, dedicated to “everything Trump”.

Official media also started giving more attention to Ivanka Trump, who has a verified Sina Weibo page with more than 14,000 followers offering up their views on the US election.

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Image caption

Geda the monkey predicted that Trump would win

At the same time several quirky animal stories caught the imagination of Chinese media.

Days before the election, many were sharing the news that Geda, a “prophetic” monkey, predicted that Mr Trump would win the presidency.

On Tuesday, government mouthpiece People’s Daily popularised “The pheasant-elect”: a bird in Eastern China that it said had a “striking similarity” to the US president-elect.

Pictures of the bird were widely distributed and shared online.

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People’s Daily/Twitter

After the election, Mr Trump dominated the front pages of many newspapers across China, following the lead of People’s Daily, which carried the front page headline: “Xi Jinping calls to congratulate Trump.”

And since his victory, the hashtag “Trump Wins” has been used widely by state media accounts including Phoenix News, which wrote that “dissatisfaction from the opposition has an impact on the Chinese people”.

Phoenix News readers reacted strongly, posting more than 1,000 comments such as “In that case, I support Trump” and “This shows what Hillary’s supporters are really like”.

Meanwhile there’s also been increased attention on the wide range of Chinese products which use Mr Trump’s name, mostly without the permission of his company.

A recent trademark case in China went Mr Trump’s way, NBC News reported, but some companies – including one making “Trump Toilets” – have vowed to keep producing their products.

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Trump Toilets

Blog by Kerry Allen, BBC Monitoring

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