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World jittery over Trump’s ‘America first’
The billionaire businessman and reality television star – the first president who had never held political office or high military rank – promised to stir a “new national pride” and protect America from the “ravages” of countries he says have stolen US jobs. AP/John Locher
MANILA, Philippines - President Donald Trump’s inaugural speech promised an “America first” policy, but offered no specifics about America’s place in the world.
The billionaire businessman and reality television star – the first president who had never held political office or high military rank – promised to stir a “new national pride” and protect America from the “ravages” of countries he says have stolen US jobs.
“This American carnage stops right here,” Trump declared. In a warning to the world, he said, “From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this moment on, it’s going to be America first.”
Here are some reactions from around the world:
Afghans disappointed but hopeful
Like many in the Afghan capital of Kabul, restaurant owner Mohammad Nahim watched the presidential inauguration ceremonies but was disappointed to not hear any mention of Afghanistan.
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“Trump did not mention a word about Afghanistan in his speech and the salaries of the Afghan army and police are paid by the US,” he said. He added that if the US stops helping Afghanistan, “our country will again become a sanctuary to terrorists. I hope Trump will not forget Afghanistan.”
Speech resonates in Mexico
Perhaps no country was watching the speech more closely than Mexico. Trump has made disparaging remarks about immigrants who come to the United States illegally and sought to pressure companies not to set up shop in Mexico by threatening a border tariff on goods manufactured there and exported to the US.
So Trump’s talk of “protecting our borders,” “America first” and “buy American and hire American” had particular resonance in America’s southern neighbor.
Ricardo Anaya Cortes, president of the conservative opposition National Action Party, called for “the unity of all Mexicans, unity in the face of this protectionist, demagogic and protectionist speech we just heard. Unity against that useless wall, against deportations, against the blockade of investment.”
“The challenge is enormous... We demand the federal government leave aside tepidity, that it tackle with absolute firmness and dignity the new relationship with the United States,” Anaya said.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto sent three tweets after Trump’s inaugural speech Friday:
– “I congratulate @realDonaldTrump on his inauguration. We will work to strengthen our relationship with shared responsibility.”
– “We will establish a respectful dialogue with the government of President @realDonaldTrump, to Mexico’s benefit.”
– “Sovereignty, national interest and the protection of Mexicans will guide the relationship with the new government of the United States.”
Pakistan worries about Muslim comments
A group of retired government officials gathered after morning prayers for a walk in a sprawling park in the heart of the federal capital of Islamabad and the topic of their conversation was President Trump’s inaugural speech.
They expressed concern that Trump would target the Islamic world, particularly Pakistan, because of his campaign rhetoric about Muslims as well as his inaugural speech in which he promised to eradicate Islamic terrorism worldwide. Pakistan has often been accused of harboring militant insurgents and declared terrorist groups that have targeted neighboring India, against whom Pakistan has fought three wars, as well as Afghanistan. Pakistan denies the charges.
“Likely there is more trouble in store for the Islamic world and our country will take the most brunt of the harsh treatment from President Trump administration,” said Mohammad Afzal.
Concern in Tokyo
Some Tokyo residents are worried that Trump’s “America first” policy will usher in an era of populism and protectionism at the expense of the rest of the world.
Tadashi Gomibuchi, who works in the manufacturing industry, recorded Trump’s inauguration speech overnight as he was keen to hear what the new president had to say.
“Trump is trying to make big changes to the way things are. Changes are good sometimes, but when America, the most powerful, loses stability ... it’s a grave concern,” he said. “If you take his words literally, it may destabilize the world going forward and I’m really worried. I hope things will lead to a soft landing.”
Retiree Kuninobu Inoue, who lived in the US during the 1990s, is concerned about trade frictions between Japan and the US, citing Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 12-nation Trans Pacific Partnership.
“Japan-US relations are not just about security. Our good relations rely so much on trade,” he said.
In his congratulatory message to Trump, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stressed the importance of the Asia-Pacific region as a source for growth but also tensions.
“In the 21st century, while the Asia-Pacific region is the source of the global economic growth, the security environment of the region is becoming more severe,” he said.
China braces for trouble ahead
A Chinese state-run nationalist tabloid, the Global Times, says President Trump’s inauguration speech indicates that the US and China would inevitably face trade tensions.
The newspaper said in a commentary following Trump’s inauguration that “dramatic changes” lay ahead for the US and the global economic order.
“Undoubtedly, the Trump administration will be igniting many ‘fires’ on its front door and around the world. Let’s wait and see when it will be China’s turn,” it said.
The paper noted that Trump blamed foreign trade policies for failing to put “America first,” and said trade tensions between the US and China seemed “inevitable within the four years ahead.”
The paper says it expects that the Trump administration, in seeking to bring factories back to the US from China, will use the US government’s relations with Taiwan as “merely a bargaining chip for them to put trade pressure on China.”
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen tweeted her congratulations to Trump, saying: “Congratulations @realDonaldTrump. Democracy is what ties Taiwan and the US together. Look forward to advancing our friendship & partnership.”
Trump didn’t mention the self-ruled island in his speech, but he angered China and broke diplomatic protocol by talking by phone with Tsai shortly after winning November’s election.
S. Koreans put security first, worry about alliance
Some in South Korea worried that President Trump would ask Seoul to shoulder a bigger share of the cost of US forces stationed in South Korea as a deterrent against aggression from North Korea, or that their country will be caught in a conflict between the US and China.
“I think the biggest challenge is national defense,” said Park Geon-rok, a 30-year-old designer, adding that South Korea was “heavily influenced by the US.”
In an editorial, the English-language JoongAng Daily said South Korea’s relations with the US under Trump will face a challenge as the new leader will likely ask Seoul to pay more for the cost of the US military forces in the country and renegotiate a bilateral free trade agreement. But the paper also notes it is “fortunate” that Trump has a strong position on North Korea’s nuclear weapons.
In place of impeached President Park Geun-hye, Acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn said in his congratulatory message to Trump that South Korea wishes to bolster the already close ties with the US and cooperate on stopping North Korea’s nuclear development.
Indians fret about immigration prospects
Among dozens of young, urban Indians who watched Trump’s inauguration and speech at a club in a New Delhi, the 27-year-old Jigar Gorasia said getting work visas for professionals and green cards will become a problem.
“It is going to be a little bit challenging for those,” said Gorasia, who studied and worked in Chicago before moving back to India last year.
Divya Narayanan, a 21-year-old student of journalism, said that Trump as president worried her. “Someone at the level of the US president coming out and saying things which are bigoted, which are sexist, it sets a precedent for other people in the country, right?”
Vitenamese say speech too America-focused
A Vietnamese analyst said Trump’s speech was disappointing because it mainly served the domestic audience.
“I think this speech would be right for an election campaign, but not an inauguration speech,” said Nguyen Ngoc Truong, president of Hanoi-based private policy think-tank Center for Strategic Studies and International Development.
“It should not be that simple because in an inauguration speech, you must introduce an objective and multi-faceted vision, not just one-sided vision to the American public,” he said. “I don’t think Trump could have a magic stick to be able to manage America to realize the goals that he outlined.”
Australians find speech divisive
An Australian father of two, Marek Rucinski, found Trump’s speech “very divisive” and lacking substance.
“Normally these speeches are used to rally and unite people,” he said. “It was, again, more bluster.”
Rucinski was among some 8,000 to 10,000 people who attended a Women’s March anti-Trump rally in Sydney’s Hyde Park.
Self-described feminist Niall Anderson watched the president’s inauguration in disbelief.
“Just disbelief that this can happen in 2017,” the 35-year-old said.
The Australian newspaper’s foreign editor Greg Sheridan wrote that “Trump answered one big question with his inauguration address: There is to be no transition from campaign Trump to presidential Trump.”