Asia Reacts to the Inauguration of Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States

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On January 20, 2017, Donald J. Trump was formally sworn in as the 45th President of the United States in Washington, DC. Countries throughout the Asia Pacific weighed in on how they saw relations between the US and their respective countries going forward under the new Trump administration and the "America First" tone of President Trump's inauguration speech

Click on a country to jump down to its specific reactions: AustraliaChinaIndiaIndonesiaJapanMalaysia, Pan-AsiaPhilippinesSingaporeSouth KoreaTaiwanThailand

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


"[Australia has] always suffered when we blindly follow United States military adventurism. All they can see is identity, and it renders them useless on global policy." - Mark Latham, Former Federal Labor Party leader

"Australia has an alliance with the United States based on common interests and values and will work closely and constructively with the Donald Trump Administration across all areas. This includes offering our perspectives on strategic and economic opportunities and challenges that affect our interests in the Indo-Pacific." - Spokesperson for Foreign Minister Julie Bishop 

"Australians know from recent experience the difficulties an oppositional populist will confront when seeking to translate simplistic slogans into effective policies. Like Tony Abbott, Mr Trump will not be granted the leeway of an early honeymoon in office. He enters the White House the least popular of any incoming modern president. The expectations of radical change he has deliberately fostered will soon be tested by the consequences of his decisions."

"Australia could be expected to do more in providing facilities to support US military activities in Asia and globally. [...] The broader system of US-led security relationships in the region is not as resilient as our own US alliance." - report by researchers at Australian National University's National Security College 

To read the full report entitled The Trump presidency and Australia's security: don't panic, don't relax, click here

"We need to be Trump whisperers. We're not seen through a hostile window at all, we've got advantages here." - H.E. Kim Beazley, former Australian Ambassador to the United States

"It it turns bad, then we go to a plan B but I think we have to try and give him [ President Trump] the benefit of the doubt at least for the beginning. Will he get his temperament under control and become presidential? Let's give it a few weeks and see what happens." - Kevin Rudd, former Australian Prime Minister 

"That means Canberra should concentrate on regional issues, not global; recognise that the UN is useful for our interests and therefore not to be unduly weakened; and insist that neither Washington nor Beijing upset the delicate regional equilibrium that has served the interests of Australia and the region for so long. In other words, we should stay on the American bandwagon, but not sign onto every Trump initiative. [...] But given his [Trump's] temperament and lack of any core governing philosophy, as well as his genuine concern for US dignity and honour as he interprets them, it would be the easiest thing in the world for an adversary to taunt and goad him out of any sense of realism. After that, who knows were America might end up? In these circumstances, Trump should not expect lapdog obedience from Canberra." 

"Already, Australia is talking about forming trade partnerships independent of the US should Trump walk away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but the real risk is that Trump will leave it open for China — which is talking up globalisation — to step into the breach and become the Great Influencer. [...] Let us pray Trump does not listen to the unhinged advice of a former US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, who this week blithely suggested that the US station troops and weapons In Taiwan. Just do it, he wrote. 'If China disagrees, let’s by all means talk.' Australia should be concerned. Ever since the South China Sea became a major international issue, some six years ago, it has played a cautious diplomatic game of saying it can be friends to both the US and China, which is our biggest export market. We won’t take kindly if Trump asks us to make a choice."

"So here are 10 actions Donald Trump would take in Australia if he were prime minister. * Curb migration and expel or send to Nauru Muslim migrants threatening terror attacks or acts of violence. (I mention that first because that’s his most controversial action and Americans took it on board). * Stop artificially starving Australia of gas and coal energy so that power prices are reduced for consumers and industry. Pipelines to the Northern Territory and Bowen Basin would be urgent projects. To kickstart exploration he would begin by rewarding farmers where gas was discovered on their land, which is really easy to do despite the constitution. State governments which want higher power prices and set about inflicting the burden on their people will not find life pleasant. * End the chronic duplication between the states and Commonwealth in health and education, which is bloating costs by untold billions. * The huge waste savings would allow big tax cuts to stimulate the economy and match the US. He would not tell local investors that they would also bear much of the costs via lower franking rebates. * Make independent contracting easier to arrange and allow them to access the lower corporate tax rate. * Pick out 10 depressed areas of Australia and earmark them for industrial expansion. Kickstart this drive by taking up the German submarine offer to use the project to kick start digital manufacturing. And we get the submarines quicker and save up to $30 billion. * Put a 35 per cent tariff on all cars and require Ford, General Motors and Toyota to revise their plans and/or give their plants to other world motor makers who will use them. Digital manufacturing makes Australian competitive again. * Stop Commonwealth public servants holding back state infrastructure--- infrastructure, health and education would be Commonwealth swamps that would be drained. Free medicine would disappear and users would pay more of the cost. * Adopt a fast train project between Melbourne and Brisbane via Sydney so that people could live out of the cities and commute quickly. The big rise in regional property would help fund the project as would abandoning a second Sydney airport which would be made redundant by the train. * Convince the US to make sensible decisions on the Joint Strike Fighter and the F22. My readers know what I mean. That’s the one policy I unreservedly agree with."


"Although the Trump administration has yet to formulate its China policy, the general trend of China-US cooperation cannot be reversed as it is 'the only right choice' for both countries, said Cui Tiankai on the sidelines of a Lunar New Year reception at the Chinese Embassy."

"If Trump chooses to raise the stakes even higher by using Taiwan as a bargaining chip, then he may step into a territory that he is unfamiliar with. China has made it clear that the one-China policy is nonnegotiable. Playing with fire will not make the U.S. great again."

"Chinese people may ask whether the US now deserves the same respect compared to the past. Current sluggish international trade can largely be attributed to trade protectionism. And your country, a nation that has long pioneered trade and economic liberalism, now advocates protectionism. Available statistics have shown that 636 trade protective measures were adopted by the US between November 2008 and May 2016, a number and a pace far exceeding the rest of member countries in the Group of 20.  [...] Furthermore, Chinese people would also like to know whether your nation is supportive of a stronger China, as Chinese people are hoping for an amicable bilateral relation no matter what the US' status is. In recent years trade frictions against us have emerged and your country's attitude toward Chinese investment has prompted doubts among Chinese enterprises. Many Chinese cannot help but have their doubts especially when the US has stressed its lead in global prosperity."

"After Trump's inauguration as the new president on Friday, the world is seeing uncertainty and unpredictability in international affairs including Sino-US relations. Trump's public speeches, tweets on social media and his cabinet picks have indicated that there will likely be greater challenges facing China and the US. In the past months, Trump and his team have provoked Beijing over the Taiwan question, the South China Sea disputes and other sensitive issues in order to seek China's compromise in trade. This will affect the healthy development of Sino-US relations. Trump and his team should be reminded not to challenge other countries' core interests and diplomatic bottom lines. It is best for Washington to learn what China's bottom lines are and the way to create peace and stability with China and the world. Only through a sound and positive cooperation between the two countries can it be possible to 'Make America great again.'" - Diao Daming, Research Fellow, Institute of American Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences


"For one, Delhi will have to quickly come to terms with the historic shift in America’s approach to economic globalisation under Trump. For nearly three decades, Delhi has defined its approach to globalisation in terms of resisting American pressures for liberalisation and standing up to the US in multilateral economic forums. It has repeatedly cried wolf about America’s protectionism. Delhi might now have the opportunity to see what even a moderately protectionist America might really look like. [...] Delhi needs to end its defensive crouch on external economic engagement and re-position itself to cope with the structural changes that Trump threatens to engineer in the global economic order. As in the economic, so in the political domain, Delhi will have to stop being defensive."


"In Indonesia, and in much of the world, climate change is not a theory or an opinion. It is a fact. We in Indonesia live with increasingly severe forest fires, floods, loss of species and extreme weather patterns that affect our economic and social security. The peoples of the Pacific islands are experiencing a rising sea level that they did not cause but will make some island nations physically disappear below the sea. All future generations, including your grandchildren, will be forever indebted if you become a fierce climate warrior. Please, please, Mr. President, do all you can to stay with the US commitments to the Paris climate treaty and stay in the lead in this epic struggle for the survival or humanity and our earth."

"I am optimistic that Indonesia-US relations will be better and it has to benefits both sides. [...] Donald Trump told me [during the congratulatory phone call] that he has many friends in Indonesia and has business in Indonesia as well. He told me that. - Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo


"Both the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and main opposition Democratic Party (DP) fired off a barrage of questions about future Japan-U.S. relations during the plenary session of the House of Representatives on Jan. 23 -- the first Diet debate since President Donald Trump took office."

"The Abe administration needs to make every effort to prevent Trump’s America from retreating into a protective shell of isolationism. This is crucial for protecting the international order and ensuring that the Japan-U.S. relationship will remain functioning as a 'public asset' for the Asia-Pacific region. This challenge requires Japan to avoid any action that could raise international doubts about its perceptions concerning history and other diplomatically sensitive issues."

"The Mainichi Shimbun conducted an opinion poll on Jan. 21 and 22. When asked about the future relationship between Japan and the United States under the administration of the new U.S. president, 56 percent said it will worsen, 29 percent said it will remain the same and 5 percent said they think it will improve. Considering that 45 percent of pollees in the previous survey taken in December last year after the U.S. presidential election said they think the bilateral relationship will be unchanged, more people have become concerned about Japan-U.S. relations under President Trump."

"It has become more important for Japan to conduct proactive diplomacy since it is difficult to predict U.S. moves. Japan could suffer unexpected losses depending on U.S.-China deals, and the role that U.S. forces play under the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty needs to be reconfirmed. Japan can contribute to U.S. policies by vigorously exchanging opinions with U.S. officials."

"Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said Sunday that Japan needs to have the new U.S. administration’s word on the defense of the Senkaku Islands under the Japan-U.S. security treaty.'It is important to confirm the U.S. commitment' to defend the Japanese-administered East China Sea islands, also claimed by China, Kishida told reporters. [...] Masahiko Komura, vice president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, told reporters Saturday that if countries put priority only on their own interests, the global economy will be devastated. 'We need to carefully monitor (Trump’s) ‘America First’ policy,'he said. To prevent the Trump administration from nixing the TPP agreement, it is necessary to help Trump understand the free trade pact is beneficial to the U.S. economy, he noted."

"The Japanese government must tenaciously explain the fact that Japanese investments in the United States are increasing jobs in the country, the significance of the TPP and the importance of the Japan-U.S. alliance to the new U.S. administration."


"'President Donald Trump has a number of times highlighted the possibility of reducing certain U.S. commitments overseas. While we hope that he will reconsider, given how crucial the Asia Pacific is to America's security and economy, it is perhaps timely also that ASEAN takes this challenge in filling up the vacuum as the result of certain policy changes that involves the superpowers of the world.'" - Hishammuddin Hussein, Malaysian Defence Minister


Countries throughout Asia express their hopes and concerns centering around the new Trump Administration.

"With the uncertainties ushered in by the Trump administration and the certainties of growing Chinese assertiveness, Southeast Asia is facing a bracing new reality. Adjusting to this was always going to involve some shifting of foreign policy postures. On that score, it is perfectly understandable and reasonable for the region's states to re calibrate ties with the U.S. and China.This should not mean that such adjustments must be made under zero-sum conditions, nor that they be governed by zero-sum assumptions or produce zero-sum outcomes.Southeast Asia should be keenly aware that as "price takers" in a game dictated by great powers, they have neither the wherewithal nor standing to influence proceedings in any fundamental way. It is precisely for this reason that they should not run the risk of taking sides, because such a strategy may ultimately prove self-defeating."

Countries throughout Asia express their hopes and concerns centering around the new Trump Administration.

China and Taiwan are profiled in their initial reactions to President Donald Trump's inauguration on January 20, 2017. 

Countries throughout Asia express their hopes and concerns centering around the new Trump Administration.


"It’s beginning to look like President Duterte may have had a vision (similar to God talking to him) because his decision to adopt a new independent foreign policy seems to be paying off. Observers say that now more than ever, the “America First” policy of Trump shows the folly of being overly dependent on the US in pursuing economic progress and development. The isolationist tone of Trump regarding trade seems to prove the wisdom of President Rody’s move to open economic ties with other countries like China and Russia.  Although some sectors, like business process outsourcing, may experience an initial slowdown, industry players are confident there will be no major cutbacks."

"But at least he [Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte] sees something in common with Trump: they’re both 'gago.' The Filipino word normally carries a negative connotation, but it can be used positively, which appears to be what Duterte meant. A possible close translation is 'badass.' [...]  'Look at his inaugural speech. He will stop drugs. Gago din! We’re not different. He will really kill you,' Duterte said."

"To bring back American jobs, he will need to risk trade wars through imposition of tariffs, renegotiation of entrenched trading agreements, and punishment of American companies moving or based overseas. America is a leading export market for Asian countries like the Philippines. American companies are the biggest investor, by far, in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector. All of these could be affected. Even if the United States will not target the Philippines directly, and instead go after other economic giants such as China and Japan, this will have a spill-over, secondary effect on us and other regional economies. Moreover, to bring a sense of security for (mostly white) Americans, Trump will have to build a figurative, if not actual, great wall on American borders. This could mean stricter border controls, more stringent immigration policies, tighter security measures in airports and other entry points into America, and new travel requirements targeted against individuals and nations deemed as threatening to American national security. This will also have great implications for Filipinos who seek to travel, migrate, or legally extend their stay in the North American country."

"'The President of the United States believes in protectionism; ‘America First’…encourages the other nations to serve the interests of their own people. US President Trump and President Duterte share that policy. We have an independent foreign policy, and the Philippine President also subscribes to the fact that it is important that we serve the interests of the Filipinos first.'" - Martin Andanar, Palace Communications Chief

"Still, it is prudent to prepare for the worst. The Philippines is among the countries vulnerable to the negative impact of an “America first” policy. Americans are among the biggest investors in the Philippines’ booming business process outsourcing industry as well as manufacturing, providing meaningful employment to millions of Filipinos. BPOs [Business Process Outsourcing] could be among the first to be hit if Trump makes good on his inaugural vow to 'bring back our jobs.'”

"Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) president George Barcelon said the 'protectionist' statements made by Trump could trigger more trade and investment opportunities for the Philippines from other global powerhouses who might be turned off by the developments in the US, the world’s largest economy. [...] 'He is always saying China is unfair and they play with their exchange rate to benefit them. What Trump is threatening… is imposition of tariff  (on China),' Barcelon said. 'If they will really impose that, it would indirectly benefit us because if that is going to happen, the Chinese would probably come to the Philippines and invest. Here is where they could be running. Their trade and investment interest could be diverted to us so of course we benefit,' he added."

"In a statement, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the Duterte government was looking forward to working with the Trump White House for enhanced Philippines-US relations.'We look forward to working closely with the new administration of President Trump anchored on mutual respect, mutual benefit, and shared commitment to democratic ideals and the rule of law,' he said."

"Hundreds of Filipinos converged on the US embassy Friday, Jan 20, to denounce Donald Trump ahead of his inauguration as president of the United States, accusing him of sexism, racism and xenophobia. Chanting 'Dump Trump,' the protesters from leftist groups also expressed concerns that Trump was a threat to the millions of Filipino immigrants living in the United States. 'It is alarming to know that an accused sexual predator, a known racist, sexist, xenophobic man is assuming the presidency of the strongest capitalist country in the world,' Joms Salvador, secretary-general of women's group Gabriela, told the Agence France-Presse."


"We see what measures are taken, what steps are taken and we will see how it impacts us then we adapt." - K. Shanmugam, Home Affairs and Law Minister 


"Trump knows nothing about Korea, and neither do his aides, who are mostly business executives. That might well lead them to view the South Korea-U.S. alliance purely from a profit-driven perspective rather than considering the bigger strategic value of the relationship. [...] If South Korea's relationship with the U.S. chills at a time when China is increasing retaliatory pressure on Seoul, it will find itself between a rock and a hard place. And if China decides to sabotage international sanctions against North Korea, the South could be in for a major shock."

"'For the Trump administration, Japan is comparable to the United Kingdom and other powerful allies who can support the U.S. in handling regional affairs,' said Kim Hyun-wook, a U.S. expert at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy. 'The relationship with China is also important especially at a time of escalating Washington-Beijing rivalry.' Kim said the U.S. interest in South Korea is mainly limited to North Korea's military threats and this makes Seoul strategically less important than Beijing and Tokyo. 'Given the circumstance, Trump may pay more attention to the countries whose governments are working normally than one whose president has been impeached,' he added."


"Department of Statistics Director-General Lin Lee-jen (林麗貞) appeared cautious about the US trade policy after Trump pushed the “America first” theme in his inaugural address on Friday. Lin said that although Trump needs some time to implement his new trade policy, which is expected to give Taiwanese exporters a buffer against US protectionism, Taiwan cannot afford to ignore the possible changes in business ties between the US and China, where Taiwanese firms such as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密) have built up broad protection sites to penetrate the US market."

Yu Shyi-kun, former Taiwanese Premier, discusses in an interview both the optimisim that Taiwan's relations with the United States will strengthen under the Trump administration and the concerns surrounding some of President Trump's goals such as scrapping the TPP. 

"While it remains to be seen what Trump would do in terms of military relations with Taiwan, the Republican Party has a long tradition of supporting Taiwan, including more arms sales for us." - Lai I-chung, Deputy Executive Director, Taiwan Thinktank

"University student Miss Chen, 22, described Trump as 'a smart businessman' who would not fall under the influence of other politicians and business people because he had his own financial means, though she added that as he didn’t have to take other people into account, he was 'sometimes rather crazy.' [...] Life insurance marketer Miss Lee saw Trump’s election as a return to traditional Christian values, while his protectionist tendencies were just an attempt to protect U.S. interests, which she called normal. Any trade measures were certain to affect Taiwan, but even during President Barack Obama’s eight years, the island’s economy did not improve, Lee remarked. She added that Taiwan should determine its own path and not rely too much either on China or the U.S. for its economic development. Yang, a 70-year-old just returned from a long stay overseas, told reporters that the Taiwanese people thought too much of their importance to the U.S. In Trump’s eyes, Taiwan is just a bargaining chip, and when conflict with China becomes a threat, Washington will not necessarily intervene, he said."


"For Thailand, we should be Trump-neutral. Let's see what he does. As Thai-US relations under Mr Obama's tenure were practically at their nadir, President Trump will re calibrate and re-prioritise values and interests that affect the bilateral alliance. Human rights and democracy as the Obama values agenda will not be abandoned altogether but interests will become more front and centre. Mr Trump is a transactional deal-maker, after all, not necessarily wedded to core principles and ideals. A Trump administration may be more understanding of Thailand's profound transitional and adjustment requirements under a new constitution. Thailand's electoral roadmap still matters but it may be more determined from within than outside. If Mr Trump pulls out a new geopolitical playbook vis-à-vis China, Thailand's role in the regional mix will be more pivotal for US interests. Ultimately, Mr Trump's presidency will likely prove much less catastrophic and apocalyptic than many people think in view of the US's overall political system and institutions. Yet Mr Trump will be highly consequential because he represents more change than continuity in America's role in international life."

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
 Final 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
 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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