Most Chinese people will treat the first US presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on Monday as entertainment, and will consider part of what they say unreliable, experts said.
Based on previous experience, the first debate will primarily focus on US domestic issues, so if they mention China, it would be related to economic issues affecting trade, investment and employment, Ni Feng, deputy director of the Institute of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday.
"Republicans normally support free trade and Democrats protectionism, but Trump is not a traditional Republican, and he opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership, so their views on China, especially on trade, would be very similar," Ni said.
An online poll conducted by news site huanqiu.com in May showed that 83 percent of the 8,339 Chinese respondents believe Trump will win the election.
A PhD student from Tsinghua University surnamed Tang told the Global Times that "if Trump keeps his promises after he wins then he will be considered a great man who changed the corrupt US system."
According to CNN, Trump has repeatedly accused China of "manipulating its currency" and claimed that China is "killing" or "raping" the US on trade.
"But Trump also said he loves China and that he earns millions from China, so he is a pragmatic businessman," Xu Changyin, former Xinhua News Agency Washington correspondent, said on Phoenix TV.
Although many Chinese prefer Trump, David Lampton, director of SAIS-China and China Studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, said Trump is unpredictable on a speech in the Centre of China and Globalization on Thursday.
Trump's views on China are unclear and unstable, but Clinton is a "predictable evil" to China, Lampton said, adding that predictability is highly important for diplomacy and major power relations.
From criticizing human rights since 1990s, when she came to China as first lady, to executing the 'Pivot to Asia' policy against China's interest since the 2010s when she was secretary of state, "Clinton's negative image in China is consistent," Wang Yiwei, a senior fellow of international relations at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times previously.
However, Wang argued that "since Clinton is a 'predictable evil,' and Sino-US ties are poor at the moment, why don't we just try someone unpredictable to promote our relationship?"
Lampton said what the candidates say during the campaign is important, but what they say may not mean what they will do, because when they get elected, their behavior will depend on national interests rather than on their personal or party's preferences.