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Foreign reaction to the 1st Trump vs. Clinton debate

Views from around the world on Monday’s first U.S. presidential debate between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump:


British officials didn’t offer any immediate reaction, but one of Ireland and the U.K.’s biggest betting houses, which has long offered odds on everything from U.S. political races to horse racing, declared Hillary Clinton the winner.

Who won the first presidential debate?

Ireland-based Paddy Power said in a statement that its “political traders felt that she was the clear winner of the debate and landed some clever blows.”

“Hillary may have failed to land a knockout blow but she was the significant points winner in the eyes of our customers who backed her relentlessly following the debate,” Paddy Power’s Feilim Mac An Iomaire said in the statement, adding, “the odds of the U.S. having their first female president are looking much shorter now.”

Paddy Power said Clinton’s chances of winning in November went from 63.6 percent before the debate to 71.4 percent after, while Trump’s fell from 38.1 percent to 33.3 percent. 

The betting house had only recently raised Clinton’s odds, saying after she was seen faltering and being supported by staff after leaving an event in New York early, that the “health scare” had reduced her chances.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who met individually with both nominees just last week, did not express any views in the immediate wake of Monday night’s debate.

Major Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz, however, said in a front-page editorial that Clinton had “overpowered” Trump in the “testy” debate.

The newspaper devoted its lead article, though, to criticizing both candidates, who were ostensibly meant to talk about “securing America,” for offering little in the way of truth.

“Neither candidate had anything coming close to serious policy prescriptions for how to do this. Donald Trump covered his lack of knowledge on the subject with bluster and waffle. Hillary Clinton, who is experienced on these matters, presented highly selective and elegantly inaccurate narratives because she knows the voters don’t want to hear that there are no easy solutions,” said Haaretz.


Egyptian Ambassador Mohamed Orabi, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee in the Egyptian Parliament, said in remarks to the Sada al-Balad news website that the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was “boring,” and showed that both candidates lack the charisma necessary of a leader. 

Orabi did note, however, that Clinton’s performance during the debate had been better in terms of consistency, and managed to showcase her long diplomatic experience. Orabi concluded that, with more than a month and two debates yet to go, it was still difficult at this stage for him to predict the eventual winner.


Wang Pei, a graduate student in communications studies, was watching the debate from a cafe in Beijing and told The Associated Press he thought Clinton carried herself better.

“I personally like Trump’s character and the feeling that he’s a fighter,” Wang said. “But from today’s performance, I think Clinton was more like a mature politician and Trump looked a bit like a misfit in this kind of setting.”

Asked if he hoped that China would someday see its political candidates engage in similar debates, he said: “I don’t expect China to copy the U.S., or become a counterpart of the U.S.

“I hope China will find its own way of sustainable development instead of following the example of the U.S., as long as this way can give us good lives,” Wang said.

Ge Mengchao, a graduate student in journalism, said he thought Trump would be a friendlier president to China because his business background could mean he would appreciate the countries’ commercial ties.

“I think maybe Trump would be friendlier to China, because China and the U.S. share vast common interests, especially in commercial areas,” Ge said. “From the perspective of a businessman, he may take a friendlier approach to China.”


Milton Gan, a Sydney-based photographer, said it seemed like Trump was trying to rein in his temper for the first 15 minutes, then went off the rails.

“He started interrupting Clinton, he started interrupting (moderator) Lester (Holt) and he started steamrolling. And you could see he was just getting really irate about everything,” Gan said.

“The most ridiculous thing was at the end when he said he had the better temperament to be president,” Gan said, laughing. “It was just hilarious.”

Clinton came off prepared, confident and composed, Gan said: “Obviously, she’s done her prep and she’s got so much experience in politics and I think that really showed.”

Richard McConochie, 57, watched the debate on a big screen in a Canberra pub and said, “To me Trump aced it.”

“He came across as a man who could control himself. They said Trump’s ignorant of the issues. I think he proved that he had at least a working handle on most of the stuff he was talking about.”

“I think he’ll swing a lot of Americans over to Trump just by proving that he is not the sort of unstable, dangerous lunatic that he’s painted to be,” McConochie said. “I don’t see that Trump would be any more incompetent than Clinton.”

Paul Smith, 56, at the same pub, was disappointed Trump had not done better.

“He just really didn’t come up with the goods today. He hasn’t done his homework as much as she had. She was just so confident, so knowledgeable, looking so healthy, relaxed and delivered. And he didn’t have the comeback, didn’t have the punches.”

“I think he should be given a go. I think it’s business as usual with Hillary, it’s just a continuation of what Obama’s up to.”


Narushige Michishita, a Japanese analyst, said it was in some ways heartening to hear his country mentioned in the debate, since Japan is often overlooked these days. But he disagreed with Trump’s criticism that Japan and other U.S. allies aren’t contributing enough to their defense.

“There is a small truth to what Mr. Trump was saying, in the sense that Japan was a kind of free-rider or at least a cheap-rider back in the 1970s and ‘80s,” said Michishita, director of the security and international studies program at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo.

“But ... now given what Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe is doing to make Japan much more proactive on defense and security matters, and trying to make Japan more engaged in international security affairs, it’s like, ‘What are you talking about?’”

Hirotsugu Aida, author of a book on the Trump phenomenon, agreed that Trump misunderstood the U.S.-Japan security alliance but said he still did better than Clinton.

“Trump unexpectedly acted presidential. It might be a setback for Clinton who wanted to make him look unsuitable for presidency,” he said. “Clinton could not successfully distinguish herself as a mature politician from Trump the amateur in politics ... It may sound a bit too strong but I would say Trump won.”

Aida, a professor of global studies at Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo, said Trump avoided making gaffes and meaningless criticism against Japan on trade issues, going after China and Mexico instead.


Victor Andres Manhit, president of the think-tank Albert del Rosario Institute for Strategic and International Studies, welcomed Clinton’s assurances that the U.S. would honor its treaty obligations if she becomes president.

“I’m really hoping that that kind of statement reminds our own government that we have an ally in the United States vis-a-vis our fight for territorial integrity and our maritime rights in the South China Sea,” he said.

Richard Heydarian, a political science professor at Manila’s De La Salle University said he thought Clinton “was clearly the more prepared candidate and was able to handle Trump’s offensives with utmost finesse. Trump seemed more subdued than expected, but spent too much time defending himself on secondary issues and failed to build up on his vision for the American people, especially the middle classes. ...

“She clearly was more commander-in-chief material today than her main rival, who forwarded a more disengaged and isolationist America that is ‘not the global policeman’ and more concerned with its narrow national interests,” Heydarian said.


Manjeet Kripalani, executive director of the Mumbai-based foreign policy think tank Gateway House, said there were “no surprises.”

“Both candidates were authentically who they are. She, the sophisticated, career politician. Donald Trump, the brash entrepreneur who people relate to,” she said.

Kripalani views Trump as a greater potential force for change in Washington’s relationship with India and its rival Pakistan.

“Hillary Clinton is a status quoist. Where America’s relationship with Pakistan is concerned or in other ways she won’t change the status quo,” she said. “Donald Trump may have some surprises in terms of how America views Pakistan. Trump has said that the existing world alliances don’t work for America.

“He’s created an opening for countries like India to step in and negotiate a new world order.”

South Korea

Cho June-Hyuck, Foreign Ministry spokesman, said it would be inappropriate for the Seoul government to respond to comments made by U.S. presidential candidates in the run-up to the vote. Trump said during the debate that South Korea should burden larger costs for the U.S. troops stationed in the peninsula, and that the United States should let China to have a larger role in controlling the actions of North Korea.

Cho said the Seoul government is closely monitoring the election, and that South Korea has been doing its part to strengthen the combined defense force between the countries and create a stable environment for the stationed U.S. soldiers. He said Seoul and Washington are holding a variety of talks on different levels to deal with the North Korean nuclear threat.