In 1990, Trump Said China Showed ‘The Power Of Strength’ At Tiananmen Square
President Donald Trump has a well-documented affinity for strongmen, but it turns out this predilection was established well before he waltzed into the White House.
Nearly 30 years ago, Trump “expressed admiration for the Chinese government's ‘vicious’ crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square,” according to an interview unearthed by Business Insider.
Playboy magazine interviewed Trump in March 1990 for a profile of the then-real estate mogul, and the interviewer asked about a trip he had taken to Moscow a few years earlier.
He was “very unimpressed” with the Soviet Union, Trump said at the time, calling the country’s political system a “disaster.”
"What you will see there soon is a revolution; the signs are all there with the demonstrations and picketing,” Trump said. “Russia is out of control and the leadership knows it. That's my problem with [former Soviet President Mikhail] Gorbachev. Not a firm enough hand."
Who did have a “firm enough hand” according to Trump?
China, which the year before had sent troops into Tiananmen Square in Beijing to fire on unarmed pro-democracy demonstrators, killing hundreds — if not thousands — of its own citizens.
"When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength," Trump said during the interview. "That shows you the power of strength. Our country is right now perceived as weak...as being spit on by the rest of the world."
As president, Trump has appeared to gravitate toward the world’s most authoritarian leaders, even while shrinking away from America’s allies.
NPR took note in 2017 of the president’s tendency, highlighting six strongmen Trump had praised by that early point in his tenure.
From the Philippine’s Rodrigo Duterte to Russian President Vladimir Putin to North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, Trump has repeatedly offered admiration for the ways of authoritarian regimes — at times seeming to envy their freedom to rule with abandon.