BEIJING — The video released by the Chinese state media thanks President Trump for helping make China stronger. It shows him in unflattering poses, his brow furrowed and his mouth agape. Its sarcastic title: “Thanks Mr. Trump, you are GREAT!”
As a trade war between China and the United States escalates, Chinese news outlets have largely refrained from leveling personal attacks against Mr. Trump.
But a new video released this week by China Global Television Network, an English-language affiliate of the state broadcaster, took direct aim at the American leader, portraying him as a bumbling man indirectly advancing China’s interests.
And then, as quickly as it began attracting attention, it was gone, pulled from YouTube and Weibo, the Chinese microblogging platform.
The video reflected the escalating anger in China over the tariffs of as much as 25 percent imposed on tens of billions of dollars worth of Chinese goods, including steel, aluminum and a variety of technology products.
“They sense his increasing domestic weakness and see a chance to pile pressure on,” said Kerry Brown, a professor of Chinese politics at King’s College London.
Still, Mr. Brown added that the criticism would probably be muted to avoid provoking a backlash in the United States. And it indeed appeared that China’s propaganda officials had second thoughts.
Mr. Trump has described the tariffs as necessary to reduce the United States’ trade deficit with China. But his efforts have rattled Chinese officials and prompted a series of retaliatory actions from Beijing, which fears slowing economic growth.
Chinese news outlets, which are tightly controlled by the ruling Communist Party, often criticize the United States in general terms. But in recent months, commentators have shown a greater willingness to invoke Mr. Trump’s name directly, accusing him of making misleading statements and resorting to “childish tactics.”
It’s not the first time that China Global Television Network, which is geared toward a foreign audience, has taken aim at Mr. Trump. A video from early August depicts Mr. Trump sitting on a toilet. An announcer describes Mr. Trump as a septuagenarian who “can sit on his toilet at 5 in the morning and post a tweet that makes you question his sanity.”
The video released this week was the latest salvo in a battle for public opinion.
In the video, a business news anchor, Cheng Lei, reads a long-winded thank-you note to Mr. Trump. Among other things, Ms. Cheng credits him with helping China lure foreign investors like Tesla and with inspiring China to devote more financing to research in the semiconductor industry.
The video, nearly three minutes long, mocks Mr. Trump for running a chaotic White House and pursuing an isolationist foreign policy. Ms. Cheng also suggests, tongue in cheek, that by prompting China to impose tariffs on American products, Mr. Trump is helping to improve public health.
“On behalf of doctors,” Ms. Cheng says, “thank you for pointing out the need to wean off American goods like bourbon and bacon.”
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