Xi Jinping congratulates Trump on US election win, as president-elect calls for unity
Chinese leader Xi Jinping looks forward to working with Trump, who promises that Washington will get along with other nations
Donald Trump called for national unity and promised to work with all nations in a triumphant victory speech on Wednesday that capped the 70-year-old real estate mogul’s election as the United States’ 45th president.
Trump’s stunning upset over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, who had been widely expected to become the US’ first woman president, defied almost all odds and polls, shocked political and business elites and sent financial markets around the world into panic.
Chinese President Xi Jinping congratulated Trump, saying the world’s two biggest economies shared responsibility for promoting global development and prosperity.
Xi also looked forward to working with Trump, state media reported.
Riding an anti-establishment and anti-globalisation wave that also saw Britain vote to leave the European Union in June, Trump is poised to become the oldest president ever elected to a first term, with his party in control of both the House of Representatives and Senate.
The New York-born Republican candidate, who had never run for office before, claimed victory at around 3pm Hong Kong time after carrying Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina among key battleground states.
By 3.45pm, Trump had 276 electoral votes – six more than he needed – compared to the 218 that went to Clinton, who appeared to have underperformed among African Americans, Latinos and millennials.
In a departure from his often brash, provocative attacks on free trade and US alliances, he declared that America “will get along with all other nations”.
“I want to tell the world community that while we will always put America’s interests first, we will deal fairly with everyone,” he said in his victory speech.
Ma Zhengang, former president of the China Institute of International Studies, said he was optimistic about the prospects for Sino-US ties.
“I’ve witnessed numerous US elections since the 1980s and no matter who controlled the White House and Congress, Sino-US relations largely remained steady over the years,“ Ma said. He said both China and the US could not afford to jeopardise bilateral ties.
But Richard Bush, a China expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington, said Trump’s notorious unpredictability and impulsiveness could be very dangerous for whatever part of the world he paid attention to.
“I don’t think that’s in China’s interest. Having a steady leader who understands and clearly articulates the US interests is much better for China,” he said.
Zhu Zhiqun, a professor at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, said US-China ties would not be a priority for the next president, who would be preoccupied with a host of domestic problems as well as trying to reassure US allies and partners in a chaotic world.
“Trump’s China policy is unclear, partly because he does not have much experience in dealing with China and he does not have an impressive or vocal China team now,” he said.
Zhu also warned that China could become a scapegoat for the new president’s inability to fix domestic woes. “It’s possible that if the economy tanks, the US government will find a scapegoat in China, and tensions in the relationship may rise,” he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin also sent a congratulatory note to Trump, saying the dialogue between Moscow and Washington must serve the interests of both countries. The Russian parliament also burst into applause after Trump’s victory was confirmed, according to Russian news agency Interfax.
German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, an ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, described the result as a “huge shock”, while French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Trump’s personality “raised questions”.
Japan, which had openly expressed dismay at Trump’s frequent criticism of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the US alliance with Tokyo, will send Katsuyuki Kawai, a political aide to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in charge of diplomacy, to Washington as early as next week.
But Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga denied the move was because Japan was unprepared for Trump’s win.
Analysts also said Trump’s win threated to destroy many of President Barack Obama’s major achievements, such as the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen congratulated Trump, saying she hoped to work with him and his administration to advance bilateral relations.
Stock markets in Asia and Europe fell on Wednesday. The Hang Seng Index shed as much as 4.2 per cent, before ending the day 2.2 per cent lower at 22,415.19. The Dow Jones index was largely steady in early trading.
Trump supporters across the US, who appeared nervous early in the night and became increasingly excited with more results coming in, were exuberant at his victory.
“The unrealistic globalism will make way for nationalism, which I agree with. And he will bring in new people and make neutral decisions,” said Alex Donanhue, 29, a former US Air Force soldier. “He wouldn’t be able to do crazy things ... He has a big celebrity ego, he needs to learn how to control himself, but he does want to fix problems and he does care for his reputation. He is not Hitler and there will not be a world war three.”
Additional reporting by Stuart Lau, Liu Zhen, Reuters and Kyodo