Here’s what the Asian media are reporting about the US Election on 3 November.
This is a live story that will be updated as new perspectives from Asia are published.
If Trump does win again this week, protests are inevitable and violence is possible. The 2020 US presidential election will have seismic long-term implications, whichever way it goes. But it is this short-term threat of violence that is now catching Asia’s attention ahead of tomorrow’s vote. Unlike China, the United States has traditionally been able to endure moments of political protest, even extreme street violence, without anyone suggesting the republic itself is actually in peril. Would another Trump win shatter the illusion that’s obvious to the rest of the world?
Some in Hong Kong believe “only Trump can hit the Communist Party”. In Taiwan, there’s a sentiment that Trump is “the only big brother we can rely on”. In Vietnam, Trump is “brave to the point of recklessness and even aggression” and this is required in a leader dealing with China. What’s fuelling the Asian support for Trump to win the 2020 US Election? BBC News gets on the ground in Asia for views.
Echoing the above, The Guardian reports that Trump has found some unlikely supporters from Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement. They like Trump’s hardline approach, apparently, even though he derides protesters in his own country as “rioters”, undermines his own free press, and maintains the support of many foreign dictators.
The Channel News Asia insight team finds out whether a second term for Donald Trump is necessarily bad for Asia, and whether Joe Biden is a better bet. Or, would either president elect have the same effect? From a similar angle, check out Singapore’s Straits Times. Contrasting reporting abounds, too. UCA News in Cambodia takes a more partisan side: it argues another Trump administration would be a disaster for Southeast Asia, and the region stands to benefit greatly from a Biden win. The Diplomat believes South Korea unofficially favours Biden, too.
If Biden does win, naturally, China has a plan. At minimum, the belief in Beijing is that US-China relations won’t worsen under a Democrat president. Asia Times reports that until 2020, the Chinese capital had an unspoken preference for Trump, until his China-bashing began with the pandemic. If Biden is elected, Beijing hopes to stabilise relations and make a return to strengthening the multilateral trade mechanisms. The “liberal hegemon” tradition of American foreign policy, this article argues, is the ideal.
The South China Morning Post also reports on how the Asian region will benefit from a Biden win. It surmises that “President Biden” return to a world of diplomacy with active engagement in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, the East Asia Summit and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum, and would repopulate America’s diplomatic corps (currently there is no US Ambassador to either Japan or Singapore). For a more in-depth look at the political and defence impacts of the US election, Eurasia Review analyses the ASEAN impact.
China has de-ideologised its foreign policy since the 1980s. It is clear to political commentators at Today Online China is not trying to turn the rest of Asia into a region of communist states. Instead, China’s aims are strategic acceptance, economic engagement, and political influence. In a geopolitically fractured world, strategic competition between the US and China ultimately limits both countries’ capacity to contribute constructively both to global recovery and renovation of the global order. A change in US administration may restore the US appetite for multilateral cooperation, and alter the course of China’s influence on the rest of the world.
Climate change is an issue that has been largely overshadowed in 2020 due to Covid-19. CNN reminds us, however, that the US is the second-biggest polluter of the planet after China, and this election is very important in the fight against the climate crisis. A president that pushes for climate policies (spoiler alert: there’s only one option in 2020) could work towards “marginal, incremental damages” rather than catastrophic ones. With wildfires torching the west coast of the US and Australia and floods inundating large swathes of Asia in the last few years, this is incredibly important to the Pacific region.
Last week, Vice President Mike Pence completed what has been coined by Associated Press as an “anti-China” tour. A five-nation trip to Asia (which included The Maldives, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Vietnam) Pompeo tried to sell his administration’s anti-Communist party approach to diplomacy. He struggled with this line, however, to find many supporters in Asia.
A slowing pace of virus infections and optimism over China’s economic recovery is burnishing the appeal of Asian stocks for some financial managers. As volatility in global markets jumps ahead of this week’s US vote, Bloomberg reports on the “Asian buffer”; an economic safe haven in the international market.
– Asia Media Centre