Trump Slams Asia During Debate, Asia Responds

Ryan Pickrell | China/Asia Pacific Reporter

Republican nominee Donald Trump dragged Asia through the mud during the first presidential debate, leaving Asia divided.

Turning China into a punching bag, Trump delivered several hard hits. He accused China of manipulating its currency, stealing American jobs, failing to properly address the North Korean nuclear crisis, and having a hand in cyberattacks against the U.S.

“They’re using our country as a piggy bank to rebuild China,” Trump said of China.

“When Trump talks about employment, he uses American politicians’ traditional techniques — talking about China!” the Xinhua News Agency said in a response online. “You blame China because you can’t compete with us,” said a commenter.

Talking about the crisis on the Korean Peninsula, Trump said, “Look at North Korea, we’re doing nothing there … China should solve that problem for us. China should go into North Korea. China is totally powerful as it relates to North Korea.”

“The cause and crux of the North Korean nuclear issue rest with the U.S. rather than China. The core of the issue is the conflict between the DPRK and the U.S. The U.S. should shoulder its due responsibilities,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying said earlier this month.

Strange as this may seem, despite Trump’s so-called “China bashing,” China is home to a large number of Trump fans. There are no official polls regarding Chinese views of the U.S. elections and the candidates in China; however, informal polls suggest that around 83 percent of Chinese people prefer Trump to Hillary Clinton.

Clinton regularly draws attention to China’s human rights record. She also supported the pivot to Asia, which China views as a veiled form of American containment. Trump’s attitude towards China is unclear. He has taken an extremely tough stance on China, but he has also said, “I love China and the Chinese people.” That registers with Chinese people.

“Clinton is a ‘predictable evil.’ Why don’t we just try someone unpredictable?” Wang Yiwei, a senior international relations fellow at Renmin University of China, explained to the Global Times.

Other see Trump’s policies as beneficial to China’s rise. “Let’s support Trump and let China dominate Asia,” said one Weibo user.

Still some in China are concerned about Trump’s willingness to let Japan and South Korea develop nuclear weapons, which could potentially threaten China’s national security.

China took a pounding during the debate, but Trump also targeted America’s Asian allies.

“We defend Japan. We defend Germany. We defend South Korea, we defend Saudi Arabia. We defend countries. They do not pay us what they should be paying us, because we are providing a tremendous service and we’re losing a fortune,” Trump said of America’s allies.

“All I said is that it is very possible that if they don’t pay us, because this isn’t 40 years ago… they may have to defend themselves or they have to help us out,” the Republican nominee added.

South Korea reportedly paid $848 million for the 28,500 U.S. troops stationed on the Peninsula, explained The Korea Times. The South Korean government indicates that this is roughly 50 percent of the total cost.

“Our government normally considers it inappropriate to comment on remarks by a particular (U.S.) presidential candidate,” South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Cho June-hyuck said, “Nevertheless … I can say that our government has contributed to and played a role in maintaining and strengthening the combined defense capability of South Korea and the U.S. as well as stably stationing U.S. Forces Korea here.”

“Our role and contributions as an ally have been sufficiently appreciated by the U.S., including the government and the Congress,” he also added.

Japan supposedly increased its financial support for U.S. troops, reports The Japan Times. Japanese host-nation support has increased to $1.9 billion, the highest figure in seven years.

Trump struck out at Japan’s competitive advantage in automobiles, stating, “We can’t defend Japan, a behemoth, selling us cars by the million,” Trump explained, saying that the defense of America’s allies is why “we lose at everything.”

In response to Trump’s harsh debate comments, Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada said at a press conference Tuesday that the U.S.-Japanese security alliance does not benefit Japan alone, “but is also in the interest of the United States,” according to Reuters.

Many in Asia expressed concern over some of Trump’s statements and suggested that Clinton may have done better during the debates. In response to a perceived Clinton victory, Asian markets improved, signaling a greater sense of reassurance with Clinton.

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