Donald Trump’s presidency is almost over, but his hats may get a second term in China.
The red Make America Great Again (MAGA) caps were must-haves at Trump rallies, protests and political gatherings, with the U.S. president sporting them himself. While Trump’s official website explicitly states that all campaign merchandise and apparel was made in the United States, popular knock-off versions hawked by outside vendors came from factories in Honduras, Haiti and China.
Throughout his turbulent four-year presidency, Trump maintained a tough public stance on Beijing that saw a costly high-profile trade war and regular diplomatic spats between the White House and the Communist Party government.
While China rejoiced in Trump’s election loss to President-elect Joe Biden, with many Chinese observers mocking his dramatic defeat on the internet, there is still intense interest in Trump as brand and businessman. VICE World News found that unofficial, made-in-China MAGA caps were still being sold by the hundreds on Chinese e-commerce portals, at heavily discounted prices.
“These are still made in China and are now probably more valuable than before,” a vendor told a potential buyer on the popular Taobao website, pointing to creative designs – including a Beijing spin as well as a new Biden model for those who want a more “updated” style.
The iconic red MAGA hats may still be in fashion, even as Trump’s day in office are numbered despite refusing to concede. But will the brand appeal last once he is not in the White House?
“Of course there will be many in China still wearing these hats, like local farmers or roadside food vendors who may not know any better but the last thing that the Chinese government would want is to have Trump announce that there are people still supporting him,” political science and international relations professor Stanley Rosen from the University of Southern California, told VICE World News.
“The hat would be problematic in China, given Trump’s continuing attack despite the election result and I dare say that there would be both party pressure as well as strong public opinions against those wearing a hat claiming to ‘Make America Great Again’.”
China finally congratulated Biden on his victory over Trump late last week after a lull of several days. Some authoritarian countries have yet to join the chorus of well-wishers for Biden, who is faced with establishing a transition team with little cooperation from the outgoing Trump administration.