11/07/2016, 19.08
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A disenchanted Asia looks on US election

Focus is on economic relations, military alliances and strategic interests. Clinton is seen as naturally continuing Obama's policies. Trump is deemed "unpredictable", but he is liked in China and North Korea. A survey in the Middle East indicates that half of the respondents would not vote for either candidate, but America’s choices will continue to affect the region.

Washington (AsiaNews) – A day before the US election, Asian media look at its effects on economic relations, military alliances, strategic interests, and world politics. According to the latest polls, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has a slight lead over her Republican rival Donald Trump.

The pending US elections has mostly sparked indifference in the Middle East and North Africa. An Arab News/YouGov poll across 18 countries in the predominantly Muslim region found that almost half of respondents would not vote for either Clinton or Trump, against 44 per cent who would vote for Clinton and 9 per cent for her Republican rival.

Middle East

Despite this lack of interest for the candidates, an overwhelming majority (for 91 per cent) believes that the outcome of the elections will have an impact on the Arab world.

In Egypt, where many closely followed the rise of Barack Obama in 2008, most people are more concerned about domestic issues and the economy. Trump’s "hostility" towards Muslims is well known, but for a majority neither candidate makes any difference.

There is greater interest in Iraq, a country that has changed since 2003 precisely as a result of US intervention and policies. Some, although they blame the Republicans for the invasion under George W. Bush, seem to prefer Trump, seen as better "in the fight against terrorism."

Others still remember Clinton’s "controversial choices" when she was secretary of state during Obama’s first term in office. In fact, for many, US foreign policy is the main culprit for the chaos that has hit the region after the Arab Spring uprisings.

The situation is different in other Gulf countries. According to Abdel Khaleq Abdullah, an Emirati analyst, local rulers are cheering for a Clinton victory because she has " knowledge of the region's issues".

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are hoping that Obama’s successor will end the (partial political) opening to Iran and the agreement over Tehran's atomic program. The next tenant of the White House is expected to take a tougher approach to the Islamic Republic.

One Saudi writer said "we have a huge experience with Clinton and she has a much better, clearer idea about foreign policy and Saudi Arabia". Conversely, "with Trump it's total unpredictability."

Southeast Asia

In the Philippines, several analysts view Hillary Clinton as the best candidate for the country, expecting her to maintain the status quo. Trump’s protectionism could damage US companies’ overseas activities.

Still, the Filipino economy will be “okay” regardless of the outcome of US presidential elections, said President Rodrigo Duterte’s newly-appointed trade envoy to Washington.

"Frankly speaking, for me, I really want to see Trump win the election. If Trump wins, the world will be changed and will be better because Trump is a businessman and as a businessman he never wants war," Cambodia‘s Prime Minister Hun Sen said in a lecture to about 1,000 police officers at the Royal Police Academy.

Almost for the same reason, "I think Hillary Clinton will be preferable for Thailand in the long term based on their trade policies," said Charl Kengchon, managing director of Kasikorn Research Center (K-Research). 

East Asia

In China, the US election is closely followed, but with a sense of mockery and superiority. In general, it seems that the Chinese – those in China and those who emigrated to America – prefer Trump because he projects the image of a strong man and is seen as a pragmatist. Clinton is seen negatively because she has increasingly criticised China.

The Global Times, which is linked to the People's Daily, the Chinese Communist Party’s daily, slams America’s "dubious" campaign and democracy. The clashes and low blows, the sexual scandals and mutual accusations by the two candidates seem to give Chinese leaders reasons to despise Western democracy.

The newspaper attacks US media for their one-sidedness in favour of Clinton, showing "the venal nature of American democracy" as well as Wall Street’s support for the former secretary of state.

However, some bloggers and especially young people like the disastrous campaign. "Two bad candidates are better than a great leader of a country that is not Democratic,” wrote Hu Xingdou in a post.

In Japan, one survey found that 88 per cent of Japanese voters would opt for Hillary Clinton if they had a vote, with a mere 7 per cent having a positive personal impression of the Republican candidate.

Asked to choose the attributes that most accurately describe Trump, Japanese people selected "arrogant", "unpredictable" and "divisive". Clinton, on the other hand, was seen as being "well-prepared", "diplomatic" and "steady".

In North Korea, leader Kim Jong-un has not publicly spoken about the US presidential election. However, the DPRK Today newspaper has described the billionaire property mogul as a "wise politician" and a "prescient presidential candidate", open to dialogue and ready to criticise Barack Obama’s action.

In South Korea, most people dislike the Republican candidate for his intolerance towards ethnic minorities and his threat to increase the costs of US troops in South Korea.

South Asia

All South Asian countries have closely followed the US election. Some local newspapers have sided openly with the one or the other candidate, others were more "lukewarm" in their political analyses.

In India, most media favour Hillary Clinton. An article in today’s First Post, Donald Trump is portrayed as a "suit-clad businessman-turned-TV producer-turned-politician who has a reputation of being an arrogant and indefatigable arguer, a stereotypical tax evading businessman, not really known to treat women with respect [. . .]. In short, a perfect specimen of a bully in American flicks that no one wants to associate with, forget accepting as their chief commander.”

Indian newspapers also point to the Republican candidate's position on Muslim immigration. For some commentators, his Florida speech describing delocalisation as “job theft” by India and China is an insult.

In Pakistan too, most comments are in favour of the Democratic candidate. On Dawn, former foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar says that Hillary Clinton will win the United States presidential election as she is considered more suitable, respected, experienced and sensible candidate.

In Bangladesh, Clinton’s election would represent a continuation of Obama's policies whereas Trump is seen as an "unknown" quantity.

Newspapers report surveys conducted in October with 1,353 small businesses across the country, shows that a majority of employers prefer Trump due to his positions on health insurance (55 per cent to 45 per cent for Clinton), as well as taxes (66 per cent to 34 per cent) and trade (55 per cent to 45 per cent).

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