This November, the whole world will have its eyes on television for the result of the fierce American presidential election. The United States holds an important place in the world strategically, economically, and politically.
As the presidential race enters its final stretch, both Trump and Biden are keen to get in the White House as the next president of the United States. Whichever of the two candidates wins, he will find himself in the middle of rising tension between Asian nations and the United States over the claims of the South China Sea.
The new government will likely come up with new policies on internal as well as foreign policy matters. Therefore, leaders in Asian states will keep a close eye on the changing circumstances in the United States in the coming months.
Having discussed the effect of Trump vs. Biden on Turkey and the Middle East in a previous article, this one will explore the impact of Trump vs. Biden on US Vietnam relations and US Asia relations and the population’s attitude in these regions toward the presidential candidates.
US Vietnam relations: Trump’s huge fan following in Vietnam:
The US Vietnam relations started after the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. After the end of the war, 1.6 million Vietnamese people settled in the United States, and their population has considerably grown since then.
President Trump has a large following of supporters in the region due to which current US Vietnam relations are in good shape, mainly because of his anti-China rhetoric.
In 2017, the Pew Research Center conducted a study to find out the opinion of people in thirty-seven countries about Donald Trump. Thirty-six of the thirty-seven countries surveyed termed President Donald Trump as ill-qualified to hold the office of the United States president.
The only country with the majority of people supporting Trump was Vietnam. Donald Trump has several social media fan pages administered from Vietnam, with thousands of likes and millions of followers which suggests,, that Trump has a special role in US Vietnam relations.
Recently, a survey was conducted by different advocacy groups such as APIAVote and AAPI Data, in which 1,600 Asian Americans took part. The result shows that 48 percent of the Vietnamese voters support Trump, as opposed to 35 percent who do not. The result also showed that a majority of American voters from China, India, the Philippines, and Japan prefer former Vice President Joe Biden to Donald Trump as the next president of the country.
This support of the Vietnamese voters for Donald Trump comes from his anti-China policy, as Vietnam and China have a long history of territorial conflict and ongoing conflict over the South China Sea.
Pompeo wraps his anti-China visit to Asia
As the presidential race enters its final phase, Trump is continuing to work for any possible way he could to win. The Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, recently wrapped up his visit to five Asian countries.
During this visit, Pompeo assured the states of Vietnam, India, Srilanka, Indonesia, and the Maldives that the United States would continue supporting them on territorial issues with China.
Secretary of State Pompeo met with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in Hanoi, the Vietnamese capital. During this meeting, Pompeo assured the Vietnamese Prime Minister of the full support of Donald Trump over issues with China and also asked him to urge the Vietnamese diaspora in the US to vote for Trump. This visit also aimed to promote the anti-China stance of Trump so that he could attract US-born voters hailing from the region which means that US Vietnam relations are improving under the Trump administration.
Asian-Americans back Biden
While Donald Trump enjoys enormous support from Vietnamese-Americans, other Asian-Americans support Biden in the upcoming United States presidential election. The 2020 Asian Voter Survey conducted interviews on the phone with different US voters having an Asian origin to identify who they are most likely to vote for in the presidential elections.
The focus group included groups of Asian-Americans, Chinese-Americans, Philippines-Americans, Japanese, Indians, Koreans, and Vietnamese. The results were as follow:
Chinese: 56 percent picked Biden, 20 percent picked Trump
Indians: 65 percent picked Joe Biden
Filipino: 52 percent picked Joe Biden
Japanese: 61 percent picked Joe Biden
Koreans: 57 percent picked Joe Biden
The result shows that a majority of Asian-Americans support Biden to be the next president of the United States of America. The support is mainly due to their opposition to Trump, his anti-China rhetoric, and his stance on immigration. From these results, it is clear that citizens from China and many other Asian countries want to see Joe Biden as the next president.
This summer, Google released a statement regarding a hacking attack on the Gmail accounts of Trump staff by China and Iran. China believes that Joe Biden will be a better option to find out a way to end the rising hostility between the nations so that they both could work together to provide their people with a progressive future.
What if Trump wins?
If Trump is elected for another term of four years, he is likely to continue with the same policies internally and also in foreign affairs. Trump has a mixed record of his relation with Vietnam and other Asian countries.
President Trump has never taken any serious interest in the issues of Asian nations, except for China, that he blames for every bad thing that happens in the US and uses as a shield to his government’s mishandling and ill-qualification.
Since March 2019, the only Asian leader that the president met was Singapore’s Prime Minister. Trump cut short his attendance at the East Asia Summit in 2017.
In 2019, the lowest level delegates were sent to the EAS and ASEAN-US Summit, and the US-ASEAN Summit scheduled to be conducted in the US in 2020 was postponed, using the pandemic as the reason. So, to sum up, President Trump has no or little interest in Asia except for emerging powers as China, on which the whole foreign policy of the Trump administration is based.
What if Biden wins?
A Biden victory is good news for China to hold talks to reach an agreement, but also for other Asian nations because of the previous records of Democrats. Biden is likely to rebuild America’s relationships with its Asian allies, and there are chances of improvement in US-Sino relations.
A Biden-Harris government will be more predictable and likely to continue Obama’s stance on the relations with Asian nations. The establishment of healthy relations with China may result in finding a permanent solution to the South China Sea Dispute.
In the last four years, Asian states have adjusted themselves to work with American rules by Trump, so if he is re-elected they will continue to work in the way they did in the last four years. However, if Biden stands victorious, there are chances of the establishment of improved relations between America and Asian nations, and both regions could collectively make this world a better place to live in.
Read more about US relations with other regional powers: How Trump and Biden’s approach differ over US Turkey relations?