The Chinese community living in Athens, Ohio reacted with pessimism after the election victory of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States. They expressed concern that the Republican President-elect will take a tough approach towards immigrants after taking office.
“I am not a religious person but today I want to visit a random church and pray,” a Chinese stay-at-home mom living in Athens wrote Wednesday on WeChat, a Chinese social media platform, a day after Trump’s win. “I pray I was wrong about Donald Trump. It is the first time in my life I wish I was so wrong.”
The 36-year-old green card holder asked to keep her Chinese name anonymous. She said she hopes Trump, as a shrewd and pragmatic businessman, will abandon hatred after taking the White House.
“With such a president who is not careful about what he says, what worries me the most is an increasing hostility against immigrants and minorities, especially in schools,” the mom of a three-year-old child said.
President-elect Trump, 70, according to The New York Times is “a real estate developer-turned-reality television star with no government experience.” His positions on immigrants include building a wall along the border between the United States and Mexico to stop illegal immigrants and tightening H-1B visas issued to low-skilled foreign workers. Trump will take office on January 20, 2017.
Current students studying in America worry about their futures
For Chinese students who wish to stay and work in America after graduation, Trump’s election win poses extra challenges.
Xiaoyu Wu is a second-year doctoral student in the School of Media Arts and Studies at Ohio University in Athens. She plans to find a job in America after graduation but now feels disappointed with the election outcome.
“Trump’s victory probably won’t influence me that much because I am legal and Trump is against illegal immigrants,” Wu said. “The biggest problem is many American people may misinterpret what Trump said during his election campaign and target all immigrants.”
“It could foster an unfriendly environment against foreigners in the long run, decreasing job opportunities provided to them,” Wu said.
“Anyway, as a foreigner I am disappointed with the result,” Wu continued. “America is supposed to be the most advanced and tolerant country in the world.”
“I probably will rethink about my future. I will have a much better life in my home country,” Wu said.
Prospective students thinking about coming to America won’t step back
Regarding concerns that Trump’s election win may disrupt the study plans of international students who are thinking about coming to America, most of the prospective students in China say they will not step back. According to an online survey among 84 respondents posted by the author on bbs.gter.net, a Chinese study abroad website, 60.71% said Trump’s victory will not influence their study plans.
“I won’t change my plan,” Zhiqiang Sun, a college student at University of International Business and Economics in Beijing said. Sun plans to start his master’s program in America in fall 2017.
“It’s like when we enter a bear market, will investors stop buying stocks?” Sun said. “Trump’s victory may affect us indirectly, but I believe the influence on individuals is not that big.”
China is the biggest spring of international students in the United States. In the 2015-16 academic year, 328,547 Chinese students were studying in America, increasing 8.1% from the previous year, according to the Institute of International Education.
Chinese people react to Trump’s victory with memes
Compared to Chinese people living or planning to study in America, people back in China reacted less seriously to Trump’s victory. Some of the Chinese social media users joked that they are the “chi gua qun zhong” (watermelon eaters, a joking expression referring to a group of onlookers who witness a sensational event), paying close attention to the unusual chaotic election.
Meanwhile, hilarious memes about the President-elect started to float on Chinese social media.