Fake Trump tweets are the new Internet fad in China

BEIJING • Internet users in China are flocking to websites that allow them to generate fake tweets by @realdonaldtrump - using them to share jokes and promote goods.

The fake Trump tweets circulating in China reflect how the US President's use of Twitter is seeping into the popular consciousness of a country where Twitter has been blocked by censors for years, reported Associated Press.

The tweets have Mr Trump's avatar and real-time time stamp. They also mimic Mr Trump's tone and fondness for exclamation marks.

One says: "@realdonaldtrump wants to buy a jianbing (typical Chinese street food) and wants Mexico to pay for it." Another reads: "@realdonaldtrump's 'favorite boy band' is the South Korean group GOT7: 'They are so cute!' "

Jike, a Shanghai-based start-up running one such website, said on Thursday that in just four days, users have created more than a million fake @realdonaldtrump tweets in Chinese and English.

"For young Chinese people, Trump has an extremely iconic image," Jike co-founder Lin Hang was quoted as saying by AP.

"His Twitter content can easily spark conversations in China. His language style is very recognisable. So when netizens put their everyday life musings or roasts in his voice, it provokes a certain reaction, a certain resonance."

There are concerns in China over comments made by Mr Trump and his Cabinet appointees on trade, Taiwan and the South China Sea. But for now, most young Chinese are not paying much heed to his anti-China rhetoric.

Mr Vincent Zhang, 37, who works at an online dating site, said the fake Trump tweets he saw his friends sharing show that many young Chinese had a relatively neutral view of Mr Trump.

"Now it's a lot of jokes because the trade issues don't feel like they affect our ordinary lives," Mr Zhang was quoted as saying.

"If he made it much more difficult to get US visas, then you will see a lot of people insult him."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 28, 2017, with the headline 'Fake Trump tweets are the new Internet fad in China'. Print Edition | Subscribe