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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

Expats say a Clinton presidency could maintain US relations with Asia Pacific

UAE expatriates from countries in the Asia Pacific region discuss what kind of impacts the US election might have on them.
Filipino Albert Alba feels Donald Trump in the White House ‘would create a hardline clash of opinions’. Pawan Singh / The National
Filipino Albert Alba feels Donald Trump in the White House ‘would create a hardline clash of opinions’. Pawan Singh / The National

This is the third in a daily series that explores how expats from around the world feel ahead of the US presidential election on November 8. We have spoken to people from Latin America and South Asia, next we talk to people from East Asia.

ABU DHABI // Hillary Clinton’s experience is key to maintaining the status quo and preventing a degradation of relations between the United States and Asia Pacific countries, UAE expatriates said.

Some Filipino expatriates believe the fate of their country’s ties with the US could be at stake in the election. Albert Alba, a marketing manager for Desert Adventures in Dubai, is taking into account the dramatic changes in the Philippines.

“I have to factor in the pronouncements of our president right now. He is being a bit critical of American policy, so regardless of who wins, it also depends on how the Philippines strengthens or sours the relations,” Mr Alba said.

Yet he believes that Mrs Clinton is better equipped to mend relations, saying that the increasingly heated rhetoric after the election of Filipino president Rodridgo Duterte could erupt into a rift should Donald Trump assume the presidency.

“With Clinton having experience in diplomacy, I think that she would be better equipped to soften the stance of our president, rather than Trump, who I think would create a hardline clash of opinions and statements,” Mr Alba said.

The US and the Philippines have been allies since the Second World War. The relationship involves attempts to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea, to which several countries, including China and the Philippines, lay claim.

Mr Duterte’s recent visit to China has led critics to say he is legitimising China’s claims to the sea, nullifying the work that the Philippines has been doing in the international court of arbitration to secure its own claims.

“The US and Philippines have been allies for so many years, but honestly, despite that bond, our economy, military and defence have not benefited,” said Mr Alba said. “We’re still years behind in our military and I think the relationship with the US is one interested in curbing our ability to be self-reliant.”

For Antipodeans, meanwhile, the question of who assumes the US presidency has less to do with regional politics as it has with personal preferences, with many thinking Mr Trump is too unpredictable.

“I’d vote for Hillary Clinton, for a number of reasons,” said J O, an Australian in Abu Dhabi.

“One is because the alternative, Trump, is so unqualified – awful, really. He doesn’t seem to have any qualifications to hold a position like that.”

Although she said there was no way to guarantee the effectiveness of a president, she thought that Mrs Clinton was more qualified for the role.

“I think Clinton is an intelligent, educated, experienced person who is well qualified for the role. Whether she does it well or not, who knows?

“Sometimes the best people turn out to not be great when they get in a position like that, but I think she stands a chance of being good.”

She compared the animosity surrounding Mrs Clinton with the experience that Julia Gillard had as Australian prime minister in 2010, adding that she thought it was time for a woman to take the helm in America.

Saman Sherif, however, who is a citizen of New Zealand, thinks the choice boils down to damage limitation.

“I’d vote for Hillary, because she is the lesser of two evils and Trump is a maniac who will pretty much ruin the world,” Mr Sherif said.

“Hillary’s problem is she is the prototypical politician – hyper-ambitious, in cahoots with lobbyists with money, with ties to Wall Street.”

But, Mr Sherif said, when considering the alternative, she is a more stable option than Mr Trump.

“We’ve seen how she was as secretary of state. Whether it was good or bad, it wasn’t ­absolutely disastrous,” Mr Sherif said.

“Donald Trump is a megalomaniac – racist, sexist and not very smart, frankly – and having a president like him with his finger on the nuclear button isn’t exactly a good idea.”

nalwasmi@thenational.ae

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