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US election candidates: Who Asia prefers

Americans vote for their next president on Tuesday. Far beyond US borders, the race is being closely watched, by the discerning analyst as well as the man on the street. Much is at stake.

China

Many prefer Trump, opinion polls show

Chong Koh Ping, China Correspondent In Beijing

China is arguably one of the few countries in Asia where Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is publicly its preferred US president, based on opinion surveys among the Chinese and social media postings by netizens.

But along with the rising odds of a win by Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, there is also a growing recognition among Chinese foreign policy experts and policymakers that her presidency might not hurt the country as much as feared.

A survey of 3,300 respondents by the Global Times tabloid in March showed 54 per cent preferred Mr Trump, while the rest disliked him.

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Singapore


Americans voicing their anti-TPP stance. Many here worry over how the US election result will affect the free trade pact signed by 12 countries that account for 40 per cent of world trade. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Businessmen fear Trump will sink TPP

Lee Xin En

With the outcome of next week's United States presidential elections hard to call, many businessmen in Singapore are putting their investment decisions on ice.

Many are concerned especially about how the election result will affect the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade pact signed by 12 countries that together account for 40 per cent of world trade. They include the US, Japan and Singapore.

Mr Wilson Teo, executive director of Teo Garments, said whether the TPP is passed by the US government will be a "very significant part" of his business considerations.

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Taiwan


US Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaking during a rally at Eastern Market, on Nov 4, 2016, in Detroit, Michigan. PHOTO: AFP

Clinton viewed as more sympathetic to Taipei

Chong Koh Ping, China Correspondent

 

Taipei wants to continue enjoying Washington's backing in security and international affairs, and a Hillary Clinton presidency seems more likely to provide for that.

The Democratic presidential candidate's good understanding of cross-strait issues and tough attitude towards Beijing are seen as a plus for Taipei, amid worsening China-Taiwan ties.

A Clinton administration is more likely to be sympathetic to Taipei, as Mrs Clinton is a well-known critic of China's authoritarian political system and has praised Taiwan for being a model of democracy.

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Japan


An employee of a foreign exchange trading company walking past monitors displaying first US presidential debate between US Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton (top, left) and the Japanese yen's exchange rate against the US dollar in Tokyo, Japan, on Sept 27, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

Clinton win will bring more comfort

Walter Sim, Japan Correspondent In Tokyo

Ask any Japanese man or woman on the street and chances are, most are hoping that former United States secretary of state Hillary Clinton will triumph over property mogul Donald Trump to win the US presidential election next week.

After all, the former top US foreign affairs official was seen to be instrumental behind the US' pivot to Asia, which helped to hedge against China's dominance of the region.

But the Japanese are hardly going to bring out the beer and shout "kanpai" even if Mrs Clinton wins.

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South Korea


Mrs Clinton is a familiar face to South Koreans as she has made many official visits to the country. Due to her support for existing policies and the US-Korea security alliance, she is the preferred candidate to most. PHOTO: REUTERS

Clinton stands for security, stability

Chang May Choon, South Korea Correspondent

Most South Koreans will be rooting for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in Tuesday's elections, as they think Mr Trump is trouble.

Analysts say Mrs Clinton, familiar to South Koreans as she has made many official visits to the country, is deemed a better choice then her Republican rival Donald Trump as she supports the United States-Korea security alliance and will follow through with existing policies.

The most important among these is the deployment of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence anti-missile system, which protects South Korea from North Korea's nuclear threat.

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Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand


Republican US presidential nominee Donald Trump speaking at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio, on Aug 15, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

Stances on trade and Islam make Asean nations wary

Francis Chan, Indonesia Bureau Chief In Jakarta

Two issues stand out for Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand as they scrutinise the policy leanings of the candidates vying to be the next US president - Mrs Hillary Clinton's resistance to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Mr Donald Trump's fiery anti-Islamic stance.

There are more than 220 million Muslims living in Indonesia and Malaysia. It therefore comes as no surprise that very few in these nations are rooting for Mr Trump, given his anti-Muslim rhetoric, including a call last year for a ban on Muslims entering the United States.

Although he later backpedalled on that issue, he subsequently made calls for "extreme vetting" of Muslims and has claimed that Muslims in New Jersey had cheered the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

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The Philippines


A worker watching the first presidential debate between US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, inside an appliances showroom in metro Manila, Philippines, on Sept 27, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

Neither will be ideal but Clinton is 'a better match'

Raul Dancel  Philippines Correspondent In Manila

Whoever becomes the United States' next president will have to deal with the Philippines' volatile leader, Mr Rodrigo Duterte, and it won't be a pretty sight, analysts say.

Mrs Hillary Clinton will likely pursue President Barack Obama's "pivot" to Asia, which will set her against Mr Duterte's wish to rid the Philippines of US troops in two years.

Mr Donald Trump, meanwhile, shares Mr Duterte's short fuse and cocky temperament. That can quickly set off a misunderstanding that may, in turn, plunge already frayed relations between Manila and Washington even deeper down the diplomatic abyss.

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India


Activists from the right-wing organisation Hindu Sena celebrating US presidential candidate Donald Trump's 70th birthday in New Delhi, India, in June. Even though Mr Trump has struck a chord with such nationalist groups with his promises to fight Islamic terrorism, many others in India prefer Mrs Clinton to become president. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Election outcome will not alter bilateral ties: Analysts

Nirmala Ganapathy India Bureau Chief In New Delhi

United States presidential elections have always been of interest to India but the ongoing contest has probably captured the attention of Indians the most, even as analysts predict a continuity in ties under a new US administration.

Indian television channels have covered the race intensively this year, including broadcasting the debates live. There have been a number of references to India through the campaign. US presidential candidate Donald Trump even professed his love for all Hindus - the majority community in India - while speaking in Hindi in an outreach to the Indian-American community, whose members continue to have strong links to India.

Still, many in India are more comfortable with the idea of Mrs Hillary Clinton in the White House.

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Europe


Anti-Trump campaigners at a September rally in London to urge Americans abroad to register and vote. Most European governments are psychologically incapable of thinking of, let alone planning for, a Trump presidency. PHOTO: REUTERS

Most prefer Clinton, with Trump victory seen as nightmare

Jonathan Eyal Europe Correspondent In London

For most Europeans, a victory for Mr Donald Trump in the US presidential elections would be a nightmare come true, since he seems to embody everything Europe dreads about its future, all rolled into one outsized personality.

Mr Trump's brash campaigning style and claims that just because he is a supposedly successful businessman, he can also be a great president, as well as all the props which go with him - such as his private jet, bling and the dismissive language towards his opponents - remind Europeans of their own populist politicians, now on the rise in almost every European country.

Not many European populists can boast of Mr Trump's wealth, but quite a few of those who currently challenge Europe's mainstream politics are resorting to the same campaigning techniques as his, the same appeal to emotion rather than reason, and slogans rather than facts. Should Mr Trump make it to the White House, the impact on European politics would be profound; the populists' argument would be that, if a majority of US voters can entrust their future to someone like Mr Trump, so can the Europeans.

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Middle East


Israeli supporters of the US Republicans holding up signs with "Trump" written in Hebrew during an election campaign event called "Jerusalem forever" last month in Mount Zion.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Neither candidate offers reassurance on engaging region

Jonathan Eyal, Europe Correspondent

Few regions of the world need United States re-engagement and support more than the Middle East. Yet no Middle Eastern government has a clear idea of what the next US administration is likely to do in the region. And, for once, that includes even Israel, notwithstanding the Jewish state's extraordinarily intimate affinity with the US.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has never made a secret of the fact that he supports Republican candidates in US elections. Still, Israel's leader has observed a deafening silence about Mr Donald Trump, largely because Mr Trump was so outlandish in his statements and behaviour that even Israel's political elite - otherwise enthusiastic about anything or anyone American - felt the need to distance itself from the Republican nominee.

And equally unusually, Israel did not feature highly in the electoral campaign. Mr Trump, who met Mr Netanyahu in late September, referred to the Israeli Prime Minister only once during the campaign's televised debates, by claiming that "Bibi" was "not a happy camper" about the nuclear deal which the US signed with Iran, hardly a revelation.

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