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The reaction against Trump favors the Chinese, says Austrian minister

by SuperiorInvest

Republican presidential candidate and former US President Donald Trump gestures during a campaign rally ahead of the New Hampshire primary election, in Atkinson, New Hampshire, United States, on January 16, 2024.

Elizabeth Frantz | Reuters

Davos, SWITZERLAND – The liberal backlash against a likely divisive US election will benefit the Chinese, Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said Thursday.

Speaking to CNBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Schallenberg said the upcoming election should not become an “intellectual debate,” in which the democratic process is called into question because of the division of certain candidates.

“Let’s be careful not to embark on an intellectual debate, where we end up saying ‘we prefer not to have elections in the United States,’ because then we are playing into the hands of the Chinese,” he told CNBC’s Silvia Amaro.

“They treat democracy as a weakness, making us slower, making us more cumbersome. And no, democracy is a strength,” he added. A spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in the United Kingdom was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.

Schallenberg was speaking specifically of likely Republican nominee and former President Donald Trump, whose electoral eligibility has been the subject of intense debate amid ongoing legal proceedings over his role in the Jan. 6 riots.

However, the foreign minister said he continued to have enormous confidence in the US constitution and its institutions, and in its ability to put forward votes with two legitimate and electorally representative candidates.

Trump, for his part, was considered highly skeptical of China during his term and opted for a protectionist approach. However, many of his policies have been expanded by the Biden administration.

‘Too early to assume’ Trump will win

Schallenberg spoke on a panel alongside Mark Malloch Brown, president of Open Society Foundations, the nonprofit organization founded by George Soros that provides financial support to civil society groups.

Malloch Brown said it was “too early to assume” that Trump would win the presidency – or even the Republican nomination – despite emerging victorious in the Iowa caucuses on Monday.

However, he noted that many Americans see Trump as the “candidate of change,” when many are seeking precisely that, and therefore he should not be discounted.

“Many Americans see him as the candidate of change at a time when Americans have a fairly high degree of frustration and exasperation about their economic security and their future,” Malloch Brown said.

“He has a more compelling case than his Democratic critics who think anyone who supports him is somehow crazy,” he added.

He added that the November vote – one of around 70 elections to be held this year – is often described in “apocalyptic terms” but may end up being much “more traditional” than that.

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