Asia Reacts to the Final Presidential Debate of the 2016 US Election

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On Wednesday, October 19, 2016 Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton met for the final time on the debate stage at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Moderated by Fox News' Chris Wallace, the debate encompassed six segments with topics ranging from Supreme Court nominations to the economy. 

To view additional topics in the Asia Reacts to... series, scroll down or click here

Click on a country to jump down to its specific reactions: AustraliaChinaIndiaIndonesiaJapanNew Zealand,  Pan-AsiaPhilippinesSingapore


In this three-part series the author explores how the US-Australia relationship can and should evolve in light of the 2016 US presidential election. 

"'When you get in a debate with someone like Hillary you just see she is presidential, he is a narcissistic buffoon [...] 'If Trump gets there, we will have a huge task on our hands, we will probably be the only country capable of influencing the US in this region...the Trump people evidently respect us.'" - Ambassador Kim Beazley, former Australian ambassador to the United States

"The extent of Trump/Clinton ideological difference was vast and a bad omen for America’s future. This debate revealed the schism that threatens America’s national life. On the Supreme Court, abortion, guns, border control, immigration and the economy these candidates offered polarising and competing visions for America’s future."


"With so much about Trump remaining uncertain, China cannot simply support him and hope. In a US visit last month, Premier Li Keqiang was noncommittal, saying US-China relations would be kept on a stable footing regardless of who was elected. After the third televised presidential debate on Oct. 19, many reports noted Chinese experts predicting a Clinton victory. What is clear is China’s ridicule of the ongoing US election. An editorial in the Oct. 8 edition of the Chinese Communist Party’s People’s Daily newspaper boastfully mocked the mud-slinging and the price tag of the election, which has been the most expensive in history."

"Some Chinese Web users used VPNs to watch the third presidential debate Thursday morning, Beijing time, held at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. A webpage hashtag 'The Presidential Debate' on Sina Weibo was viewed 800 million times as of press time, and had 339,000 posts."

"'We don’t care that much about the US [election politics] now. With our ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, we are not as reliant on the US as we were before,” he said.
“After all, existing cooperation will not be affected by the change in leadership. [...] China will still prepare for both possibilities. But Hillary has a much bigger chance of winning and, of course, China is prepared if she wins.'” - Wang Yiwei, Director, Institute of International Affairs, Renmin University 

"The fact that this election is going to put someone who is either dishonest or reckless in the White House has proved such a political system the Americans are taking pride in and try to transplant to the rest of the world has run into significant problems. Now, the 'shining city on a hill' can hardly ignite hope even for its own population. Worse yet, America's domestic problems have from time to time had an adverse effect on the rest of the world. Worse, if Washington stays obsessed with sensationalism, fails to fix its deep-rooted social and economic problems, and continues to conduct its foreign policy in a peremptory manner, the next to be victimized may be itself."


"His refusal to commit to accepting the election results should he lose makes the US look like an immature Third World democracy. One would have thought that peaceful transition between governments is a given in the world’s oldest democracy, but Trump managed to put even that into question. Neither America nor the world can afford Trump."

"The fact is: America doesn’t deserve Trump. America, overall a warm, generous and welcoming nation – despite its quota of ‘deplorables’, doesn’t deserve a ‘bad hombre’ like Trump. He makes America look bad. America is much better than him. Trump is a disgrace to America and democracy."


"The US is a global leader and therefore should care about international opinion. With Trump, the world can fairly ask, what is happening in the US? If America is unwilling to be a global leader, anarchy and conflict could easily erupt in the future. If Trump is elected as US president, one thing will surely happen: US leadership will lose global respect. By comparison, Clinton, whatever her failings, is a known personality among the international community. Her foreign policies as Secretary of State are well known. One may agree or disagree with her, but these policies are there for all to see."


"Although they don't have a say in the U.S. presidential election, a roomful of Japanese did get a vote in whom they thought won the third debate between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton. About 100 blue cards were held high in a room in the U.S. Embassy in Japan in Tokyo's Minato Ward following the debate in Las Vegas on Oct. 19, declaring Clinton the winner."

"Prospects for substantive policy debate look grim at this stage. The candidates will likely keep slinging insults even as the day of reckoning approaches. A Trump victory would undoubtedly send shock waves through the world. Yet even if Clinton wins, the campaign will leave scars that will not soon heal."

“'The election definitely created a climate where Obama cannot push for the TPP ratification during the lame-duck session, and it would be hard for Clinton to move for it soon after the election. [...] 'The next president will also have to accommodate some of the inward-looking views on the U.S.-Japan alliance, if not as outrageous as Trump’s.'” - Masaru Nishikawa, Professor, Tsuda College

"I would like to see Hillary Clinton win, but I do have concerns about her health. However, she is still better than Donald Trump. He’s incapable of maintaining good relationships with other countries. One reason why is that he speaks offensively every time. In addition, his reaction to immigration is likely to provoke other countries’ antipathy. I think Hillary Clinton is best suited to becoming the next president of the U.S." - Naru Seto, Student, 21 (Japanese)

"Frankly, I’m on Trump’s side. I’m not supportive of his racist ideas, just tired of seeing how Hillary uses LGBT groups as a sort of political tool. Hillary makes promises — for example, to LGBT groups — hoping they will vote for her, but she is not aware of the reality the U.S. is facing, with increasing criminality, unstable foreign relationships. Her plan sounds wonderful, but without solving the most basic issue of social inequality, the LGBT groups will still suffer within society."-Li Lun, Student, 19 (Chinese)


"The usual ability of Americans to show some dignity, and at least a modicum of respect for their opponents, was never apparent with these two. But again, with the boorish, bullying, womanising and abusive Trump, that was never going to be a possibility. Given what's been said during the past three debates, and what's been said in public between them, has surely diminished the office of the American President, which is likely to take a long time to recover."


"We hear such comments constantly from Japanese conservative men There are so many incidents that people get used to it and it's easier to let it go." - Mari Miura, Professor, Sophia University, Japan

"What shocks me is that many Americans still accept him and make excuses for him." - Senior female member of Indonesian government 

"In our climate, a Donald Trump-like figure would have to apologise publicly" - Maya Mirchandani, Foreign Affairs Editor, NDTV

"Personally, I think Donald Trump would definitely be unelectable in Australia. I don't think there is any place in Australia for that level of misogyny and cheapening of politics." - Ged Kearney, President, Australia Council of Trade Unions 


"Some Fil-Ams [Filipono-Americans] say Trump is their Duterte and I always beg to disagree. Their similarity ends with their unconventional way of campaigning and their colorful language. I think Duterte is truly a man who feels for the people, while Trump is merely on an extended ego trip. It is difficult to understand why many Fil-Ams are staunch supporters of Trump who is a white supremacist who feels nothing for immigrants like Pinoys. [...] I was about to be very disappointed about Fil-Ams until I came across a Rappler story about a Pew Research Center study of Asian Americans. This 2013 demographic survey showed Fil-Ams as the second largest Asian American group at 3.4 million. And contrary to my impression, most Fil-Ams identify themselves as Democrats."

"'She would understand the problems that Philippines is facing with regards to our relations to China, Japan, Korea, in this other part of the world. She understands that better having been around the area as a former Secretary of State. I think she has a clear grasp of how and what the Philippines needs' [...] 'It is also scary though because I think Clinton is also confrontational. I think after this elections, she will also confront anybody and everybody who will put down the US.'" - former Ambassador Apolinario Lozada Jr


"Ultimately, the debates will likely be remembered for their ugliness. But if there one thing the on-stage duels tell us about the remaining weeks of campaigning, it is that the outcome of the election - like the debates - will be decided not by who makes himself or herself more likeable, but who makes the other more unlikeable."

Additional Topics in the Asia Reacts to... Series

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter's Trip to India and the Philippines
Secretary of State John Kerry's Historic Visit to Hiroshima
Donald Trump's Comments on Possible Nuclear Armament of Japan and South Korea
 Nominations of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump 
 Donald Trump's First Foreign Policy Speech
 President Barack Obama's First Visit to Vietnam
President Barack Obama's Historic Visit to Hiroshima
 Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Fourth Visit to the United States
 Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) Deployment
2016 Democratic and Republican National Conventions
President Barack Obama's Final Trip to Asia 
 First Presidential Debate of the 2016 US Election
Second Presidential Debate of the 2016 US Election
Election of Donald Trump as 45th President of the United States 
 President-Elect Donald Trump's Talks with Asian Leaders
The Inauguration of Donald J. Trump
 President Donald Trump's Executive Order on the Trans-Pacific Partnership 
US Withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord 
 President Donald Trump's First Visit to Asia

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