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What could happen in Southeast Asia after the US election?

Voters across the US are casting their ballots for their 45th president, choosing between Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump. The effects will be felt the world over, and Southeast Asia could see an immediate impact  

Visitors take photos with portraits of presidential candidates
Visitors take photos with portraits of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump during US Election Night in Nieuwspoort, The Hague, The Netherlands, 08 November 2016. Photo: EPA/Bart Maat

After almost 18 months of campaigning, voting for the next US president is underway, with results trickling in from states across the union.
Today’s election is the culmination of roughly 18 months of bitter campaigning and controversy. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has been plagued by an FBI investigation into her use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state. And Republican candidate Donald Trump been roundly criticised for rhetoric that is widely seen as xenophobic, misogynistic and generally populist.
William Case, a professor in comparative politics at the City University of Hong Kong, said that a Clinton victory could provide a short-term economic boost to Southeast Asia.
“Clinton did respond quickly as secretary of state to Myanmar’s [economic] liberalisation and, of course, was the main driver behind America’s ‘pivot’, later ‘rebalancing’, to East Asia,” he said. “This may give a slight boost to stock prices in SEA – although much of the region seems to be contemplating its own pivot, to China.”
Already Asian stock markets, such as Japan’s Nikkei 225 index, have been fluctuating wildly while election results continue to pour in.
Southeast Asian leaders are largely supportive of a Clinton presidency, according to Harry Sa, a research analyst with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies’ US programme.
“With Hillary Clinton, there is an air of familiarity and an expectation of continuity of existing policies,” he said.
But Sa was quick to point out that regional heads of state would still be willing to cooperate with Trump if he were to take the White House.
“There is clearly a preference throughout the region, but there’s no reason to start a new relationship off on the wrong foot by publicly endorsing or condemning a particular candidate.”
Trump has found at least one high-profile supporter in the region, receiving public admiration from Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.
“For me, to be frank, I do want to see Trump win,” Hun Sen recently said.
“If Trump wins, the world can change and have a good situation because Trump is a businessman,” he said. “Trump does business so Trump would not want to have war.”
Case said that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who has openly rebuked the US for its criticism of his controversial war on drugs, might publically commend Trump’s pledge to pursue an isolationist US foreign policy.
“Rodrigo Duterte might also welcome Trump’s victory,” Case said, “both for the latter’s strongman appeal, but more importantly, for his likely retreat from the region’s economy, politics, and security concerns.”

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