Americans in China gather to watch US election as vote count under way

Members the American community have set up election viewing parties in Beijing, China.
Members the American community have set up election viewing parties in Beijing, China.ST PHOTO: ELIZABETH LAW

BEIJING - The American community in Beijing has set up viewing parties, gathering to watch the unveiling of the poll results taking place in their home country.

Due to the time difference, most of the gatherings were breakfast affairs on Wednesday (Nov 4).

At the Beersmith Gastropub in the business district, some two dozen attendees, including Americans and people of other nationalities, started gathering just after 8am. With coffees and pastries in tow, they kept their eyes glued to news network CNN on giant screens as early results of some states were announced.

Organiser Tu Le, an American consultant in the auto industry, said he initiated the event because friends of all nationalities had been curious about the US election.

"I thought to have a friendly environment where people can come together and talk about the results," he told The Straits Times.

"Of course if things go badly, at least there's booze."

At The Local, political junkies started gathering before 8am at a watch party organised by Democrats Abroad, the official arm of the US Democratic Party arm for overseas Americans.

By about 9am, the crowd had grown to about 40 people.

Inside the pub, patrons munched on breakfast burritos while watching CNN's coverage of the latest developments as polls closed and votes were being counted.

On of them was expat teacher Clara Low, 31, who arrived at about 7.30am with her husband.

"I support (Democratic candidate Joe) Biden, I think there's nobody else better to beat (President Donald) Trump," she said.

At most of the events, talk was rife about the outcome’s impact on Washington’s China policy. 

The world’s two biggest economies have been locked in a bruising trade war since 2018 amid spiralling diplomatic relations, with companies from both sides caught in the crossfire. 

Should the tensions continue, American firms are worried their China operations might get affected, an executive at a financial services firm told The Straits Times. 

“A lot of these firms here, they’ve been here a long time and are so integrated into the local economy but there are still concerns that there could be a backlash if a second Trump administration takes more punitive measures,” he said, declining to be named because of business sensitivities. 

But as the day continued and it was clear a winner would not be announced by the afternoon, the mood started turning solemn, with many deciding to head home after lunch. 

Mr Le had hoped to get an early result. “I’m disappointed,” he said. 

For live updates and results, follow our US election live coverage.