(Additional reporting by Professor Folu Ogundimu)
Some foreign observers in the Asia-Pacific region were nervous about the outcome of the U.S. elections in the closing days of the presidential campaign. Although international observers in the region expected that a Clinton presidency is preferable to a Trump administration, some are wondering if either candidate can measure up to the standard established by President Obama in international relations with the region.
The antipathy with which the major candidates for the U.S. presidency are viewed in the region was reflected in the Singapore Straits Times, which carried an interview with Simon Tay, chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs. Tay said that although he struggles with both candidates, Clinton would be more acceptable to Singaporeans on matters of foreign affairs. He said Trump speaks “more to an audience in America that has felt left out by globalization.” He said Trump’s audience feels that others, especially Asians, have benefitted more than Americans in their dealings with the world. Tay also said the essence of Trump’s message to Asia and the rest of the world is “I dictate, you accept.”
An editorial in the New Zealand Herald at the end of October said a Clinton victory in the U.S. election was a preferred outcome, as the newspaper feared what could happen if Trump wins. New Zealand is a close ally of the United States on economic, political, and military affairs. New Zealand’s biggest fear is that Trump’s presidency will damage the country’s trade success. A report by ASB Bank of New Zealand published in the New Zealand Herald says that Trump’s policies could cause restrictions on trade because Trump has threatened to end the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Citizens of the Asia-Pacific region who presently reside in the United States were also interviewed for this report to find out what they are hearing from their home countries and what they think of the presidential election. Kira Frederick, a senior chemistry student at Michigan State University who hails from the Philippines, said Filipinos don’t really understand why Americans are so divided on politics. “They don’t have much to say about whether they like or dislike either candidate, Frederick said. She said although she might be influenced by her ethnic origin if voting in the Philippines, she is certainly not influenced by the coverage of the election she sees in the Filipino press.