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  • Writer's pictureXiaodong Fang

Are the GOPs and Trump leading the China-bashing ads in the 2020 campaigns? Data say no

Overall, GOPs have aired more China-bashing ads during the 2020 congressional races so far. To many's surprise, Biden has taken more on China than Trump in presidential campaign advertising.

Photo courtesy of Tiffany Tertipes/Unsplash

The Trump administration is taking a tough stance on China in many areas and Trump's campaign has contended many times during the campaign trail that Biden will not be as tough on China. However, data shows that the percentage of China mentioned in Biden's campaign is higher than that of Trump's campaign.


According to the data released by the Wesleyan Media Project, China ranked the 8th (airing 9,153 times, 23.4%) most mentioned issue of Biden's campaign ads airing between July 15 and August 9, 2020.


Top Issue Mentions by Biden and Trump Campaigns

SOURCE OF DATA: Wesleyan Media Project coding of Kantar/CMAG data.

During the same period, however, China (mentioned for less than 10%) was not among the issue emphases of Trump's campaign ads.


The substantial mentions of China in Biden's campaign ads show that the Democratic presidential nominee is not destined to be soft on China. In his bid for the White House, Biden has vowed to stand up to Beijing and accused his opponent, President Donald Trump, of getting "played" by the regime.


In congressional races, another report shows that Republicans spent heavily on China issues in the Senate races between July 15 and August 6, 2020.


Top Ten Issue Mentions in U.S. Senate Ads by Party Lean

SOURCE OF DATA: Wesleyan Media Project coding of Kantar/CMAG data

China is mentioned in 13.7% of pro-Republican ads. Again, there is a clear party difference in the emphasis placed on China, as China is not on the top ten list on the pro-Democratic side.


Thanks to the relentless efforts and voices created by China Bashing and many other China-related activisms, China remains one of the most important issues in the 2020 campaigns and elections. What also plays a role in the heavy mentions of China on the pro-Republican side is the 57-page memo sent to the campaigns by a top Republican strategist advising GOP candidates to address the coronavirus crisis by aggressively attacking China.


In an article published in 2019, I argued that all candidates, regardless of party IDs, could bash China to strengthen their campaigns and push China to change its wrongful practices on many issues. With Election Day fast approaching, I urge the candidates from different political parties go to confront China on various issues including trade, human rights, cyber-espionage, the South China Sea, and etc. during the campaign trails, press the CCP to reverse its wrongdoings, and contribute to the future democratization of China.



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