Trump said he’d been “very unimpressed” with the Soviet Union.
“Their system is a disaster,” Trump said. “What you will see there soon is a revolution; the signs are all there with the demonstrations and picketing. 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.”
The future US president was then asked if he meant “firm hand as in China.”
“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 replied. “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.”
Trump has frequently expressed admiration for authoritarian, strongmen leaders— including Xi Jinping, China’s current president. His approval of China showing the “power of strength” in Tiananmen three decades ago is consistent with much of his behavior as president.