Americans in China dismayed, embarrassed by US presidential campaign as election draws to close
Electorate offered a poor choice of candidates in poll and the divisive nature of campaign has damaged nation’s reputation, expats say
For many Americans living in China, the US presidential election can’t end soon enough.
“I’m sure we’re all ready that it’ll soon be done. [We’re] pretty tired of all of the scandals,” said Leah, an American expatriate working in Beijing . “We all just want to know who wins so we can move on.”
She has voted for Clinton because she believes the former secretary of state “is a much more qualified candidate” than her Republican opponent Donald Trump.
The election, however, has been something of an embarrassment for US citizens, she added.
“As an American, I’ve really faced a lot of laughter because of Trump. When I was in a bar or restaurant with Europeans or Australians, they would go like, ‘so how’s Trump going?’
“I hope he doesn’t win so people can forget about him. If he wins, I can only imagine what the conversation would be like every time someone finds out that I’m an American.”
Robert Rosen, who works for a medical firm in Beijing, said he also felt dismayed by conduct of the election.
“These two people are the only candidates really able to represent our country as the next president? It’s very sad and embarrassing,” he said.
“Build a wall to keep Mexican immigrants out of the United States? I think the running joke is ‘look at China, they built a Great Wall and they don’t have any Mexicans running around there.
“Hillary’s open email investigation? It’s all very scary even considering I only spend about 30 days per year in the USA.”
Rosen said he supports neither candidate, but Clinton was likely to win in his home state of California.
“The lesser of the two evils would be Hillary”, he said. “Regardless of my vote, Hillary will sweep my state.”
AJ, an American working as a researcher in Beijing who asked not to be named, said this had been the ugliest election he had seen in the US.
He contrasted it with the polls that elected Barack Obama, America’s first black president, when hopes and enthusiasm for the future were high.
“I think a lot of people are very upset and I don’t think she [Clinton] has been able to capture the same type of Millennials supports that either Bernie [Sanders] or Obama were able to generate,” he said.
Many of his friends were not going to vote, according to the 26-year-old from Virginia.
“It’s not what we were seeing in 2008 and 2012 when people were voting because they wanted to vote for Obama. Now they vote because they don’t like Trump,” he said.
American voters in Shanghai also expressed strong misgivings about the conduct of the election.
“I see it more as two negatively portrayed candidates clashing with each other on the national stage. It’s embarrassing our nation,” said Randall Mycorn, who works for an international hedge fund.
“I support Hillary simply because I think that if you vote for someone like Trump you are putting morals in jeopardy. If you look at the presidential position, it’s a direct representation of America. The most important thing is the image of the presidency.”
Steven Bielinski, a foreign NGO employee in Shanghai, said the American people had been offered a poor choice in the election.
“You have two candidates who are both disliked by the majority of American people and one of them, Donald Trump, has never served in the US military or been a public servant and has very little knowledge and experience of government and foreign policy,” he said.
Bielinkski said he supports Clinton because he is concerned about the Sino-US relationship.
“When it comes to international relations, diplomacy and maintaining security, it’s important to have someone with experience, knowledge and temperament to think strategically about the relations that US has with other countries,” he said.
Lucas Englehardt, an entrepreneur at an internet start-up company in Shanghai, said the controversy over Clinton’s alleged breach security in sending emails while she served as secretary of state had not deterred him from giving her his support.
“The email thing is not necessarily a good thing, but something many officials have done, in both the US and other countries,” he said.
William Zarit, a business consultant in Beijing, predicted Clinton would have a “commanding lead” in the polls despite the email controversy.
If Trump did win, however, it would prove problematic for US relations with China, he said.
“Working with Trump will be very difficult because he is not knowledgeable about China,” Zarit said. “It seems he is mainly focused on himself.”
Additional reporting by Alice Yan