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

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On Sunday, October 9, 2016 Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton met at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri for the second presidential debate. Moderated by ABC's Martha Raddatz and CNN's Anderson Cooper, the second debate took the form of a town hall meeting where half of the questions for the candidates came from members of the audience. 

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Click on a country to jump down to its specific reactions: AustraliaChinaIndia, JapanNew ZealandSingaporeSouth Korea


"Until November 8 rolls around, the best thing we can do, according to Guardian Australia’s Kath­arine Murphy, is send some noise-cancelling headphones to our American friends because Trump is going to say plenty more appalling things until he is defeated by the Democratic heiress. Once it’s over, there will be smug sighs of relief. They will talk about a bullet dodged and how a conman didn’t become commander-in-chief. Robert De Niro won’t need to punch Trump in the face. End of story. And then normal programming will resume in Washington and in the left-wing media. Except that’s not the end. Trump may be over but Trumpism isn’t. Not by a long shot."


"In this year's presidential campaign, both Clinton and Trump have invested more energy in the use of media, which on the one hand helped them contact voters, know public opinion and create their media images, but on the other hand helped increase political entertainment and vulgarization. During the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, although social media became a battlefield, what the candidates said online still kept grace and rationality, with their tweets focusing on policy matters. But this year, to gain support from online voters, Clinton and Trump have attacked each others' temperament, characters and health conditions. Even until the televised debates at the sprinting stage, the presidential race still has not returned to the track of presenting campaign claims and policy ideas."

"Chinese experts say the noticeably fewer mentions of China in the latest debate showed a deepening mismatch between America’s domestic politics and its international role.Meng Yabo, a US affairs expert from China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations in Beijing, said it partly reflected the differences between US elites and common folks. 'Common American voters' cared more about things directly related to their livelihood, and domestic issues have received more attention in the Trump-Clinton debate than in the previous two elections, Meng said. 'But the general public’s indifference to serious topics such as US-China ties … doesn’t mean the US elites are caring less about Washington’s international role.'”


"Immigration curbs and higher tariffs strike at the core of New Delhi’s rising global aspirations. Trump’s negativism about immigrants, overseas investment in the US and privileging white, blue-collar workers upsets Indians. 'A US president should provide thought leadership to the world. Clinton is competent. Trump has dash, but appeals to a lower common denominator. Between the two I would settle for Clinton, from an American and an Indian perspective,' said Sanjeev Aga, former CEO of telecom company Idea Cellular, now on the board of corporate giants like L&T."

"India does not have a presidential system; neither is there a culture of direct debates between leaders. But elections have been accompanied by threats of getting back at rivals or bringing them to justice for misdeeds - depending on where you stand on the political spectrum - through democratic history. [...] It could be read as vendetta politics. It could also be read as the system of checks and balances inherent in Indian democracy, which makes incumbents accountable for actions and thus is acceptable in electoral contests. But what is beyond doubt is that it represents institutional corrosion, where executive power is used to hound and lock in rivals. If Trump has its way, the US would be borrowing a dangerous practice of Indian democracy."


"It was a pitiful sight. Without shaking hands, two candidates vying to become the next president of the United States launched into political debate, and with a dearth of deep discussion, they constantly descended into attacks on each other's character. It was only natural for one U.S. media outlet to label it the "ugliest debate in American history." In any case, new questions should probably be raised about the temperament of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump."


"By any orthodox measure he didn't win the debate. But this is not an orthodox election and it was not an orthodox debate. The shock tactics he employed sowed doubt, highlighted hypocrisy and played perfectly to the fears and biases of his core support base. [...] The extent to which many Americans dislike Hillary Clinton is hard for New Zealanders to fathom. She seems hard working, highly professional and relatively benign - if perhaps a little cold. But in the US, to a certain section of the public, she represents all the failures of an elitist, liberal, baby boom generation."

"'I'm not going to critique it all, you'll have to draw your own conclusion. My personal view is that language is indefensible' [...] 'The comments themselves are indefensible. That's why he's come out and apologised for them. And I think all of us that have had a chance to see Donald Trump over the last few months would realise that he's not a person that is prone to apologising very often.'" - John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand 


"Worryingly for Asia, these concerns hardly found a mention during the debate. Instead, it was a crude video, deleted e-mails and American taxes and heathcare that got most airtime. As important as these issues may be to the American voters, they are of peripheral importance to Singapore. What this small country needs is a focused Washington, pushing along the Trans-Pacific Partnership, charging ahead on the war on terror and leading the way to tackle climate change. Singapore needs a United States actively involved in this region, acting as a counter balance to the growing might of China."


"Whoever becomes the president will have to consider the divided society in policymaking. Countries modeled after the U.S. system may start to question U.S-style reasoning. We must closely study the political risks and aftermath of the U.S presidential election. "

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
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
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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