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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Monday, September 24, 2018


Ripples of fear, confusion, hope spread across the world as Washington witnesses dramatic power transfer

Donald John Trump took the oath as the 45th President

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WASHINGTON, U.S. - The world was watching as Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. His moves, actions and reactions to bilateral relations, political decisions, choice of cabinet and the smooth functioning of the world superpower have all come under the scanner ever since he was elected president of America in the dramatic November 2016 elections.

After fighting it tooth and nail against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for months and battling a slew of accusations - his long and often ugly campaigning came to an end with his unexpected victory.   

And since then, experts from across the world have been gauging all of his moves, in a bid to understand what lies ahead for America and the world over the next four years of his rule. 

Then, on January 20, 2017, Donald John Trump took the oath as the 45th President of the United States of America. 

As history was to be made, thousands of Americans descended on Washington DC, to mark the swearing in ceremony and millions others watched the ceremony live from across the world. 

Here are some reactions from allies and rivals globally. 

In China, domestic broadcasters were forbidden from screening Trump’s inaugural speech live. 

While Trump began on a conflicting note with China - during the period between his victory and official ascension to power - many words have been exchanged, often with threatening undertones on many of the issues. 

Authorities reportedly feared Trump’s message to Americans might include more attacks on China’s Communist party leaders. 

However, on the eve of the inauguration, China’s government and state-run media struck a conciliatory tone.

Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry was quoted as saying, “Both sides should try to be friends and partners, rather than opponents or enemies.”

Chunying emphasized constructive bilateral relations between the two countries to "propel further development of China-US ties at a new staring point."

He said, “We would like to join hands with the new U.S. administration to uphold the principles of non-confrontation, non-conflict, mutual respect and win-win cooperation.”

The country’s Communist party tabloid, Global Times said his “impressive” address signalled that the start of the Trump era would herald “dramatic changes.”

The state-run newspaper said in an editorial, “On the world stage Mr Trump will likely align his foreign policy with U.S. corporate interests, blurring the lines of ideology or political values. Frictions between the U.S. and its allies, and trade tensions between the U.S. and China seem inevitable within the four years ahead. 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, “A favorable Sino-U.S. relationship represents great progress in human political civilization, and it is hoped that Trump will consolidate this trend."

In Belgium, a Women's March in the capital, Brussels criticised Trump’s offensive comments on women and alleged cases of sexual harassment. 

People from Norway and Spain too participated in the demonstrations.

Meanwhile, in Russia, the country’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova said in a Facebook post, "In a world of many things can happen, except one: President Obama can't say anything anymore about Russia."

Then, Russian senator and former chairman of the Parliamentary Foreign Relations Committee, Alexei Pushkov said in a series of tweets, “Аfter Mr.Trump inauguration his meeting with President Putin will be the most important event in world politics. A defining moment in history.”

He said, the United States would need Russia to solve the ISIS problem. Adding in a tweet, “Trump said that the destruction of ISIL is a main priority. To solve the problem, he won't need Warsaw, Kiev or [Lithuania's capital] Vilnius. He'll need Russia."

South Korea’s acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn had reportedly sent a letter of congratulations to Trump hours before the inauguration.

Kyo-ahn urged close cooperation in countering North Korean nuclear threats in his letter. 

The state-run Yonhap news agency meanwhile called Trump's speech "strongly negative" toward America's security commitments overseas. This, despite a promise to "reinforce all the alliances."

U.K.’s foreign minister too congratulated Trump on Twitter.

Boris Johnson said, “Congratulations to @realDonaldTrump @POTUS on his presidential inauguration day. Look forward to continuing strong UK - US bond.” 

Meanwhile, an 80-foot banner reading "Bridges Not Walls" was unfurled on the iconic Tower Bridge over London's River Thames on Friday morning.

The U.K.-based protest group put up such signs on bridges across the country and a total of 150 such strips were planned to be displayed across the country.

The signs were also displayed on the Waterloo Bridge and Blackfriars Bridge.

A message from representative Nona Hurkmans said on the group's website, “On Trump's inauguration day we're taking action to show our support for groups under attack - here in the U.K., across Europe and in the U.S.A. - and to reject the rise of a dangerous and divisive far right politics.”

In Japan, a march organised by the Democrats Abroad of Japan in the capital Tokyo, in which American expatriates and few Japanese citizens participated.

Event organizer Erica Summers said, “I just want to make sure that Trump knows that we are here. Women are not going anywhere. I want to make sure we have our reproductive rights. I want him to know we (women) are equal, and he cannot get rid of us."

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meanwhile extended his "heartfelt congratulations" to Trump on Friday.

Abe said in a letter, “I look forward to working hands in hands with you to ensure peace and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region and to address various challenges the international community faces.”

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto congratulated the new leader in a tweet and expressed a desire to strengthen the relationship between the countries.

But Former President Vicente Fox tweeted, "Speaking of allegiance, Trump? Speaking of greatness? America was already great and succesful, then you happened! Prosperity comes in compassion and friendship. We will thrive, we will be succesful. Let the US lock themselves up!"

He had tweeted on Friday morning, "Today we turn into an era of uncertainty. If Donald the Unready doesn't learn to behave, the rest of the world needs to come together."

Cuba's state media, Granma, the official communist party newspaper did not mention Trump's swearing-in at all.

In India, India's prime minister Narendra Modi congratulated Trump in a tweet that read, “Looking forward to working with President @realDonaldTrump to further deepen India-US ties & realise the full potential of our cooperation.”

Iranians gathered in Grand Mosalla, a complex of religious halls and other facilities in Tehran

They criticised the U.S. for its policies toward Iran and its role in Syria.

The future of the nuclear agreement between Iran, the U.S. and other nations was the main topic of discussion.

Trump has previously said that the agreement was a bad deal and that he wanted to renegotiate it. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent Trump a welcome tweet.

Netanyahu has said that he's ready to work with Trump and said, “Congrats to my friend President Trump. Look fwd to working closely with you to make the alliance between Israel&USA stronger than ever."

After Trump’s inauguration, Israel's ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon said, “We look forward to your visit to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel."

In Palestine, thousands of Palestinians demonstrated across the West Bank, holding pictures of Trump and waving Palestinian flags, protesting the potential move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. 

Similar violent scenes were seen in the Philippines - where about 200 people marched against Trump in the capital, Manila.

Protesters chanted ‘U.S. troops out now’ and burned a mock, paper U.S. flag before lighting an actual one. 

Renato Reyes Jr., secretary-general of the Philippines' left-wing New Patriotic Alliance said, “Filipinos from Manila to Washington to New York are joining protest actions against what they believe to be ... a fascist and racist regime, and now the chief representative of US imperialism.”

Other signs read, "Donald Trump, pullout US troops in the PH!" and "Fight Trump. Resist fascism and imperialism."

In a letter, Pope Francis said, “Upon your inauguration as the forty-fifth President of the United States of America, I offer you my cordial good wishes and the assurance of my prayers that Almighty God will grant you wisdom and strength in the exercise of your high office. At a time when our human family is beset by grave humanitarian crises demanding farsighted and united political responses, I pray that your decisions will be guided by the rich spiritual and ethical values that have shaped the history of the American people and your nation's commitment to the advancement of human dignity and freedom worldwide. Under your leadership, may America's stature continue to be measured above all by its concern for the poor, the outcast and those in need who, like Lazarus, stand before our door. With these sentiments, I ask the Lord to grant you and your family, and all the beloved American people, his blessings of peace, concord and every material and spiritual prosperity."

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meanwhile said Canada looks forward to working with Trump as well as with the U.S. Administration, the 115th Congress and officials at the state and local levels “to restore prosperity to the middle class on both sides of the border, and to create a safer and more peaceful world.”

Trudeau said in a statement, “Together, we benefit from robust trade and investment ties, and integrated economies, that support millions of Canadian and American jobs. We both want to build economies where the middle class, and those working hard to join it, have a fair shot at success. Canada and the United States have unparalleled cooperation on matters of national security, and have always worked side by side to protect our citizens and ensure our shared border is secure.”

German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel warned, “What we heard today were high nationalistic tones. I think we have to prepare for a rough ride.” 

Gabriel stressed that Europe and Germany must stand together “to defend our interests.” 

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi too congratulated Trump and said in a statement, “The President looks forward to strengthening the friendship and enhancing the special strategic relations that bind Egypt and the United States of American at all levels.”

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