From the following post, we see that there are three main ways to transcribe Donald Trump's given name in Chinese and two main ways to transcribe his surname:
Here are the two prevailing transcriptions of "Trump" in Chinese characters:
Tèlǎngpǔ 特朗普 (mainland China, Macau, Malaysia/Singapore) — 4,970,000 ghits
Chuānpǔ 川普 (Taiwan, Hong Kong, but also on the mainland, especially on the internet) — 1,570,000 ghits
N.B.: The relative popularity of these two forms is shifting among different groups in all of the designated regions.
There are other transcriptions of Trump's surname, such as Dùlínpǔ 杜林普, which more nearly resembles the original German forms Drumpf, Drumb, Tromb, Tromp, Trum, Trumpff, Dromb… as spelled back in his ancestral village of Kallstadt, Germany. Dùlínpǔ is MSM; 杜林普 would sound more like the German forms if pronounced in some of the southern topolects.
There are also playful renderings, such as Chuángpò 床破 (lit., "bed-broken"). Though popular for a while, such fanciful transcriptions are ephemeral and need not detain us in this post.
I also won't go into detail about a brand of toilet called Trump made in China (they claim that their brand name is completely unrelated to Donald Trump), except to note that the Chinese transcription of their brand name is Chuàngpǔ 创普 (lit., "create / initiate general / universal / popular / everywhere"), which means that they subscribe to the same phonological assumptions for rendering the consonant cluster "tr-" in Chinese as those which I shall discuss below.
"Light relief in China as lid lifted on toilets named ‘Trump’", by Clifford Coonan (a friend of mine) (The Irish Times, 3/18/16)
In this post, I would like to concentrate on the second most common way to transcribe "Trump" with Chinese characters, viz., Chuānpǔ 川普 (lit., "river general / universal / popular / everywhere"). The equation of the Mandarin initial "ch-" with the Germanic consonant cluster "tr-" will probably flummox many readers. So let me adduce additional evidence to show that they are actually not that far apart.
A colleague who taught English at a Chinese university a while back informed me:
Some of my students in China told me they couldn't hear a difference between "tr" and "ch", so for example, "trump" = "chump". This is the first time I've noticed it affecting transcriptions.
What makes Chuānpǔ 川普 particularly endearing is that it not only transcribes "Trump", it also signifies a variety of Mandarin spoken in Sichuan.
N.B.: As to why "Chuān 川" ("river") is the abbreviation for Sìchuān 四川, the latter name is popularly understood as referring to the "four [major] rivers" of the province, though the situation is actually a bit more complicated than that.
Richard Warmington shared the following definition of Chuānpǔ 川普 that someone anonymously submitted to CC-CEDICT:
The person also sent along the following comment (which I've adapted to Language Log style):
I lived in Chengdu for some time and this term (Chuānpǔ 川普) is very common over there and in Sichuan in general. Basically, Chuānpǔ 川普 is a Sichuanese person's attempt at Putonghua (MSM); it can be almost indistinguishable from Sichuanese topolect, or just lightly accented Putonghua; there's no standard Chuānpǔ 川普. But usually it's accented Putonghua with some Sichuanese words, like ba1si2 巴适 ("good"), xiao3de2 晓得 ("know"), ga3ga3 嘎嘎 ("meat"), mao4pi2pi2 冒皮皮 ("boast"), ta2ta2 踏踏 ("place"), mo2dei / mei2de 没得 ("there isn't any; there are none"), yao4de 要得 ("all right"; the negation of that is yao4bu4de 要不得 ["not all right"]), etc.
[VHM: I'm not confident about the tones in Sichuanese — they are often quite different from those in MSM, and when Sichuanese and MSM are mixed up together, it can be a tonal jungle, er, jumble. It seems that people speaking Chuānpǔ 川普 are deliberately putting MSM tones on Sichuanese expressions, which adds a note of tiáokǎn 调侃 ("ridicule") to this mixed language.]
Anyway, they usually make a clear distinction among Pǔtōnghuà 普通话 (MSM), Sìchuānhuà 四川话 ("Sichuanese"), and Chuānpǔ 川普 ("Sichuanese pidgin"). Hence the joke that a Sichuanese person can speak three languages.
More information in Chinese here.
From these articles, we learn that Chuānpǔ 川普 ("Sichuanese pidgin") is also popularly called Jiāoyán Pǔtōnghuà 椒盐普通话 ("Pepper Salt Putonghua"), since these are two of the favorite seasonings of Sichuanese cuisine, and the term sounds very folksy, like the language itself.
For Sichuanese attraction to various sorts of pepper, see these posts:
"The bearded barbarian" (8/26/15)
"Fragrant and Hot Marxism" (12/20/15)
For Sichuanese and Chengdu Mandarin (not the same thing!), see these posts:
"English and Mandarin juxtaposed" (9/6/13)
"Mutual Intelligibility of Sinitic Languages" (3/6/09)
Judging from what my students who are from Sichuan tell me, their parents and their parents' friends enjoy speaking Chuānpǔ 川普 ("Sichuanese pidgin") and about Chuānpǔ 川普 ("Trump") to each other.
[Tom Bishop, Richard Warmington, Matthew Trueman, and Yixue Yang]