China Global Television Network (CGTN), the largest of China’s state-run broadcasters, posted a video to YouTube on Monday night that sarcastically thanked U.S. President Donald Trump for helping China improve with the “shock therapy” of a trade war.
The video was yanked without explanation on Wednesday, just hours before representatives from China and the United States met in Washington to discuss the trade situation.
The South China Morning Post describes the video as a presenter reading a sarcastic thank you letter to Trump in English, in essence claiming Trump’s actions united the rest of the world against America and inspired China to make some tough but necessary economic reforms:
“Dear Mr Trump, Thank you for the shock therapy about how far apart China and the US are and why it’s imperative they get on the same page,” the letter, read out by CGTN business anchor Cheng Lei, says.
“Thank you for re-instilling in the Chinese a sense of HUMILITY. How can there be enough gratitude for highlighting the foibles of overconfidence and self-congratulation, never a virtue except in your case,” Cheng, a former reporter for the US CNBC network, continues.
The letter covers a number of issues the trade war has brought into focus and explains how China has benefited from the situation.
At one point it even argues that China’s retaliatory tariffs on US food and drink imports will help improve the nation’s health, saying: “On behalf of doctors, thank you for pointing out the need to wean off American goods like bourbon and bacon.”
Cheng expressed “agreement” with Trump’s stance that the “WTO needs reform”, and went on to thank the US government for reports that spelt out “China’s shortcomings” that had helped it to make “tough reforms” that helped bring in new investors, adding: “Hello, Tesla.”
Last month the US electric car maker announced plans to build a new plant in Shanghai, the first in China that will be wholly owned by a foreign company.
Perhaps the Chinese government had second thoughts about the wisdom of claiming a Tesla plant as a great economic victory.
Cheng wrapped up by thanking Trump above all for “discrediting news media at large so we need to be doubly sure that we’re not producing fake news,” which might also have been a jab China’s state-controlled propaganda-filled media felt a bit less comfortable with throwing upon further reflection.