Asian viewers give nod to Clinton after debate
Hillary Clinton put Donald Trump on the defensive and showed a better grasp of foreign policy issues, according to a sampling of people across Asia who watched the fiery first US presidential debate.
In China, the debate was streamed live on the country’s Twitter-like Weibo service and attracted thousands of comments.
Some called Trump “a loose cannon”, while others thought that as a businessman he was best qualified to lead the world’s largest economy.
Trump raised eyebrows among a packed crowd watching the debate at The American Club in Singapore when he lashed out against China.
“Look at what China is doing to our country,” Trump said not long after the debate began. “They are devaluing their currency and we have nobody in our government to fight them ... They are using our country as a piggy bank to rebuild China, and many other countries are doing the same thing.”
Landy Eng, a former California government worker who has been living in Singapore in the past 20 years, said he was an undecided voter. “But Trump’s China-bashing is something I’m not particularly in favor of,” he said.
Eng said he does like the “disruptive” factor of Trump’s campaign.
“Hillary is the kind of person you can do business with, at least from my point of view,” said Aloysius Lee, 65, a retiree from Hong Kong. With Trump, “you don’t know what’s going to happen next, you don’t know what he’s going to say next”.
William Hua, a Chinese lawyer who watched the debate in Beijing, said he thought Clinton prevailed. “Donald Trump says Japan and South Korea can develop nuclear weapons? It seems absolutely ridiculous,” Hua said.
Trump said in an interview with The New York Times in March he would consider letting Japan and South Korea build their own nuclear weapons, rather than rely on America for protection against North Korea.
A CNN poll released after the event found 62 percent of debate viewers felt Clinton won compared to 27 percent for Trump.
In a sign that investors also saw Clinton as the winner, US S&P 500 stock futures rose as did Asian shares. “Markets started to call the debate for Hillary within the first 15 minutes or so, with the Mexican peso surging in what is probably its busiest Asian session in years,” said Sean Callow, a senior currency analyst at Westpac in Sydney.
The Mexican currency has fluctuated, depending on poll numbers for Trump, who has vowed to take trade protectionist measure against the US’ southern neighbor and build a wall across the border to stem illegal immigration.
South Koreans, watching the debate on TV screens in the lobby of Seoul’s central train station, said they were with Clinton on the issues.
“Trump has ideas of withdrawing US forces from our country, and in terms of national security, Trump is a threatening figure,” said Lee Hyo-jin, 26. “So I support Hillary,” she said.
Trump during the debate again said if US allies like Japan and South Korea “don’t pay their fair share, they may have to defend themselves or help us out”.
She ignores his barbs and attacks; he gets baited by every one of hers.”