Although the Asian leaders have congratulated Donald Trump on being elected as the 45th President of America, almost all the countries in the continent believe that Trump’s election poses significant new risks.
India, Pakistan, China, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and other countries in the region have decided to “wait and watch”, as these nations are uncertain about their future ties with the US.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to President-elect Trump on Wednesday evening and expressed hope that Indo-US ties would be taken to new heights under the new presidency. However, Indian foreign policy experts are not sure whether bilateral ties will take new shape under Trump’s leadership in Washington. Trump has been vocal against outsourcing of jobs. He has also spoken about ending the “abuse” of the H-1B visa (a non-immigrant visa that is designed to allow American employers to recruit and employ foreign professionals in specialty occupations within the US for a specified period of time). However, he has also been welcoming of highly skilled immigrants, particularly to Silicon Valley. India hopes that President Trump will be less extreme than candidate Trump.
While Trump has promised to take China to task on unfair trade practices, India could find itself on the mat too. His anti-globalisation platform could mean some crossed-wires between India and the US. Foreign policy experts have advised the Modi government in New Delhi to wait to see Trump’s approach to Afghanistan and Pakistan, especially whether he puts pressure on Pakistan to end support to terrorism. The Indian government has also been advised to see whether Trump pulls American troops back from Afghanistan or pushes forward against the Taliban. India will hope for the latter, but will have to prepare for the former.
Trump has asked South Korea and Japan to arm themselves to counter China. This could create a multi-polar Asia, which India favours. If Trump succeeds in bringing Russia back into play as a world power, it would also be welcomed by India. But, the Indian system is concerned at the strong isolationist streak in his worldview. The overriding view of Trump is uncertainty, as he has said little of substance on foreign policy and his advisers are unknown unknowns.
Currently, shocked Asian Muslims struggle to come to terms with results of the US Presidential Election. In Indonesia (the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country), Malaysia, Bangladesh, there is growing nervousness about how their relationships with America will shape up and how the Trump presidency will affect relations between the US and the Muslim world.
Trump’s upset election victory has surprised and worried the top political leadership in China. Dean of the School of International Relations at Peking University and senior government adviser Jia Qingguo called Trump “a symbol of uncertainty”, saying: “China hopes the US’ future policy would be more certain because in this way, we can prepare and deal with it.” Some in Beijing believe that Trump will prove a pragmatic businessman and will be willing to deal with China. However, it is still unclear how Trump’s presidency will affect China-US relations since he has not formally outlined his policy on the Asian giant.