Asia greets Trump’s victory with concerns

The election of the 45th president of the United States sparks various reactions, from Trump’s friend Putin who wants to renew relations to Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia who want to revive old ties. Iran is afraid for its nuclear deal. In China, the focus is on the "uncertainties" that will emerge after the vote. Card Parolin calls for action on peace in a world of “grave wounds."

Washington (AsiaNews) – Vatican Secretary of State Card Pietro Parolin reacted to the election of Donald Trump as US president. “We send our congratulations to the new president” in the hope that “his government may bear real fruit,” the Vatican’s top diplomat told reporters.

Trump, the prelate noted, can be “assured of our prayers that the Lord may enlighten and support him” in the service of his country, but also in the service of peace and wellbeing in the world. In today’s world, everyone has to work to change the situation, which is one of “grave wounds, of serious conflicts”.

The victory of the Republican candidate for the White House surprised commentators and analysts at home and abroad. World markets reacted negatively, with most dropping, except for the Moscow Stock Exchange, which saw a bounce. The ruble also remained stable against the dollar.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg congratulated the winner, saying that US leadership was "as important ever" for NATO and that he was looking “forward to working with President-elect Trump”.

During the election campaign, the tycoon had sparked controversy by suggesting that US military involvement in Europe - against Russian aggression - had to be financially supported by its European allies.

Still, Trump’s election remains an unknown quantity, especially in relation to his foreign policy choices. Meanwhile, the first reactions from Asian government, analysts and leaders include doubts and expectations as to the first moves the 45th president of the United States might make.

Middle East

Many issues await the new president, from Iran's nuclear agreement and the war in Syria to the fight against the Islamic State and Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as the troubled relations with old allies like Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

In Turkey, government leaders are delighted with the election of the Republican candidate after a tense relationship with the Obama administration. “We congratulate Mr Trump and wish him success,” said Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, who called on the new US president “to extradite Fethullah Gülen, who lives in US territory, as soon as possible”. Turkish authorities blame the latter for the failed July coup.

With Donald Trump’s election, Egypt‘s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi hopes to see an improvement in relations between his country, the most populous Arab country, and the United States. He was one of the first in the Arab world leaders to congratulate the Republican candidate in the hours following the election victory.

Cairo is pushing for a rapprochement with its historic US ally, after relations cooled following the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi in 2013. The latter belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood (a movement backed by Washington). Sisi said “more cooperation and coordination" were needed. Before the vote, he describe Trump as “a good leader” from the point of view of peace and stability in the Middle East.

Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif urged President-elect Trump to respect the international nuclear agreement signed last year by Tehran and Washington. During the election campaign, the Republican candidate had questioned its value, raising alarm bells among Iranian leaders who already face domestic hostility.

Zarif stressed that anyone becoming US president should recognise the realities of the world and the Middle East and face them realistically. “Iran and the US have no political relations but the US must carry out what it has undertaken as an international multilateral commitment in the JCPOA,” he noted.

The US election result was met with satisfaction in Israel where the ruling right-wing government believes that Trump will end the idea of ​​a Palestinian state and support settlements, which should be increased.

Israel’s Education Minister Naftali Bennett said that with Donald Trump's election, “The era of a Palestinian state is over.”

Other members of the Israeli right agree, urging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government to boost the settlement policy in the occupied territories in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Knesset Member Bezalel Smotrich called on the government to “announce today the construction of thousands of new housing units, planning and construction of new towns and cities, and to remove the blemish that the previous administration sought to implement – that the settlements are an obstacle to peace".

Conversely, Palestinian leaders congratulated the newly elected president urging him to work for the birth of their state. "We are ready to deal with the elected president on the basis of a two-state solution and to establish a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders," said Palestinian spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina.

For its part, Hamas reacted to Trump's victory saying that it did not expect a change in US policy towards the region or the Palestinians.

The Muslim world appears concerned about Trump’s election, and many people in various Muslim nations are wondering whether new wars will come.

Some remember the Republican candidate’ anti-Muslim rhetoric during the election campaign and fear an escalation of Islamic extremism in response to tougher policies by the new US administration.

Still, some Muslims view the election result with greater optimism. One US citizen, a Muslim of Lebanese origin, noted Trump’s criticism of the damage caused by US foreign policy in the Middle East. One example are the 60 billion dollars spent to support the wars in the region, and that they could be used to boost the domestic economy.

In a telegram, the King of Saudi Arabia Salman congratulated Trump hoping that he would bring "stability" and "security" to the Middle East, reinforcing the old bonds between "the two friendly nations". Relations between the two had cooled recently, in part because of Iran's nuclear agreement and conflicting interests in the region.

In Iraq observers stressed the strong "bilateral relations" and "common interests" with Washington; in fact, few fear a great change with Trump’s victory. Economic agreements and the fight against terrorism are shared goals, a government source in Baghdad said. Relations are thus expected to stay same. People might change but the policy will remain the same as always.

East Asia

In China, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said that Beijing is ready to work with the next US president, for strong and stable development bilateral diplomatic relations. However, some media have focused on the "uncertainties" the election brings.

The Global Times, a paper close to the Communist Party of China, said that Trump’s victory shows the gap between the political elite (represented by Clinton), and the middle and lower classes.

Chinese authorities issued orders to limit US election coverage and commentary on the internet, TV and in print media. At the same time tough, the latter were quick to cover the scandals that emerged during this election. “They want to make the Chinese people believe that Western democracy is bad,” said Qiao Mu, from the Beijing Foreign Studies University.

In any case, Trump’s victory is likely to lead to tensions with China. During the election campaign, the US tycoon accused Beijing of manipulating the value of the yuan to support unfairly its exports, and pledge to fight Chinese protectionism against US products.

With respect to America’s strategic and military alliances, Trump said that the US would reduce military spending and for that he wants Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia to pay more for US military defending their territories.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe immediately congratulated Donald Trump. “Japan and the United States are unwavering allies, firmly bound by the bonds of our universal values — freedom, democracy, basic human rights and the rule of law,” Abe said.

However, most Japanese have reacted with dismay to the election. Research commissioned by the South China Morning Post showed that 88 per cent of Japanese voters favoured the Democratic Party candidate. Emi Doi, a journalist with the web site, said Trump’s victory was “scary”.

Prime Minister Abe, who was planning to meet Hillary Clinton in Washington, has tried to calm his nation’s fears as soon as the yen soared and stocks fell.

South Korea’s National Security Council met today to discuss the Republican candidate’s victory and the effect that this will have on the country. The US ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert reiterated that the alliance between the two countries would continue.

South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said on Wednesday that he believed Donald Trump would maintain the current US policy of pressuring North Korea over its nuclear and missile tests.

"Trump has indicated that the greatest problem facing the world is the nuclear threat and members of his national security team hold the position that favour's applying strong pressure against the North," Yun said.

In Russia, President Vladimir Putin congratulated Trump for his victory and expressed hope for an improvement in strained US-Russian relations.

On several occasions, Trump praised Putin’s leadership so much so that Clinton had accused to be his "puppet." Trump has repeatedly argued that it was necessary to join Russia to fight and defeat the Islamic State in the Middle East.

Southeast Asia

From Indonesia, some have voiced concern about Trump’s election. According to the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI), the tycoon’s victory could create tensions between the United States and the Muslim world.

Din Syamsuddin, a senior MUI official, said that Trump had made "negative, cynical" comments about Muslims in the past, and forgot "that many Americans are immigrants".

Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte  congratulated US President-elect Donald Trump and said that he looked forward to an “enhanced Philippines-US relations anchored on mutual respect.”

“The United States presidential election is a testament to the enduring traditions of its democratic system and the American way of life,” he added.

Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak said, “We look forward to continuing this partnership under President-elect Trump. I congratulate him on this extraordinary victory, and look forward to meeting him again soon.”

He also noted that in 2014 the US and Malaysia elevated their relationship to a comprehensive partnership and that they are firm allies in the worldwide fight against terrorism and extremism.

South Asia

All South Asian countries were surprised by the election of the New York mogul as 45th president of the United States. Even now, several hours away from the news, the country’s main English language media are still in shock and have not updated the news. 

The prime ministers of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan sent congratulatory messages. In India most newspapers sided with Hillary Clinton to continue Obama's policies. For days, they reported surveys favouring the Democratic candidate, but today they raise doubts about their validity.

India’s main newspapers focused on the election’s impact on India. They celebrated the victory of Kamala Harris, a California attorney, as the first Indian-American to be elected to the Senate for the state of California. Indians are also happy that Raja Krishnamoorthi, also a Democrat, will represent an Illinois district in the House of Representatives, crossing their fingers for three other candidates of Indian origin.

Soon after Trump’s victory was called, some media reported that the websites of the Canadian and New Zealand Immigration departments crashed from excess traffic involving immigrants in the United States, including Muslims, who fear deportation.

For Bobby Ghosh, editor-in-chief of the Hindustan Times, “Islamophobia is harmful to the United States and India [...] Perhaps, we allow ourselves to fantasise, he will be good for India because his unalloyed Islamophobia will make him the enemy of our enemy, Pakistan. [However,] An Islamophobe is bad for India, not least because Islam is one of India’s faiths, practiced by 15% of its people: anyone who seeks to harm Muslims seeks to harm 150 million Indians.”

In Pakistan there is concern for Muslim migrants who have been repeatedly attacked by the new president.

“I'm very afraid. Will there be more wars? Will America attack Muslim countries again?” asked Indonesian activist Alijah Diete, quoted in Dawn. "Muslims are foreigners to him," said another Muslim commentator.

In Bangladesh, leaders of the three major political parties said that Trump’s election would not change the relations between the two countries.

In Nepal and Sri Lanka, newspapers reported the Republican’s "surprise victory".