Donald Trump is not the President of the United States seeking international support.
Pursuing an open nationalist “America First” policy, he publicly insulted half of the world, from calling European leaders weak to describing Mexicans as rapists, and even disbanding the entire African continent.
But for some people in Southeast Asia, China’s common enemy means that they are still willing to continue to support him.
Hong Kong: “Only Trump can defeat the Communist Party”
After large-scale democracy movements and anti-China protests, Hong Kong severely suppressed Beijing. A new security law has introduced to punish anyone deemed to divide the country or undermine Beijing’s rule.
“When Donald Trump had received my election four years ago, I thought America was crazy,” Yuan Miming told the BBC. “I have always been a supporter of the Democratic Party. But now, I support Trump with many Hong Kong demonstrators.”
The activist and business woman said that Hong Kong’s first task is for the US President to “strike the CCP harder. It is the only hope for Hong Kong demonstrators.”
The US President’s criticism of China, especially Hong Kong’s voice, inspired these hopes.
During his tenure, Congress passed a law that revoked Hong Kong’s special status. The law gave the country preferential economic treatment because they said Hong Kong was no longer “autonomous”. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and ten other senior officials from Hong Kong and mainland China were also sanctioned.
Trump’s opponent Joe Biden also vowed to “punish” China’s actions against Hong Kong and famously referred to Chinese leader Xi Jinping as a “thug.”
But for Ms. Yuen, what is different is that the current government “is the first to determine that the CCP is harmful to the world.”
“I don’t know why the Obama and Clinton administrations didn’t realise that. They were too naïve and thought the CCP would chose a democratic path and become a modern society. But that has proven to be not true.”
She knows that Hong Kong is vulnerable to any economic impact of the conflict between Washington and Beijing.
She said: “You can’t harm the CCP without harming Hong Kong.”
“But we are ready for any short-term suffering, we are willing to sacrifice.”
Although she said that most activists, especially young activists, share her views, polls show that overall Trump’s comments in the United States are quite complicated. In a recent survey, almost half of the respondents gave him a “poor” rating. Many said that Washington’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic affected his reputation.
Taiwan: “A big brother we can rely on”
Tensions between China and Taiwan Island have been rising. The two split during the civil war in the 1940s. However, Beijing insists that the island will be forced to take it back at some point. If necessary, it will be recovered by force. Washington say that any resolution on a long-term separation must resolve peacefully.
Trade tariffs and sanctions have also left a deep impression on Taiwan.
“Donald Trump’s attitude is good for us and it’s good to have such an ally. It gives us more confidence in terms of foreign affairs – militarily and trade,” Lin Jiaxiang, who works in e-commerce, told the UK from Taiwan Broadcasting company. “We have a big brother we can rely on.”
Mr. Trump has certainly expanded his contacts with Taiwan. In the past few months, the two governments have taken an important step towards reaching a bilateral trade agreement.
Mr. Linh believes that reaching such a trade agreement with the United States will free Taiwan from its heavy dependence on China, and may even “actively invite Taiwan’s big companies to set up factories in the US”.
He worried that Biden might not take “provocative” measures in the face of Beijing’s anger. Traditionally, Mr. Biden is a supporter of dealings with China. Although he has recently changed his position, many Taiwanese who are worried about the imminent “aggression” of China have not heard.
Mr. Trump’s military support for Taiwan has also strengthened his support in Taiwan. In fact, a recent poll showed that Taiwan is the only country that wants Trump to remain in office for another four years, much more than those that want Biden to win.
Beijing has reacted strongly, warning the United States “not to send any wrong signals to ‘Taiwan independence’ elements to avoid severe damage to China-US relations”.
Vietnam: ‘Brave to the point of recklessness’
In the past 50 years, both Washington and Beijing have fought wars on Vietnamese soil, but although the United States has been largely forgiven, the Southeast Asian country is still worried about the “China threat.”
According to journalist and video blogger Linh Nguyen, Trump supporters in Vietnam fall into two categories.
Those who like him only for entertainment and charm, and those who “resolutely support Trump” and follow American politics, because they, like many people in Hong Kong and Taiwan, believe that he is the only mainland China opposed to the Communist Party The government’s fortress and Vietnam.
Neither Mr. Trump nor Mr. Biden clarified the Vietnam strategy, and Mr. Trump has made it clear that he will not rush to intervene in conflicts and disputes in other countries.
However, people like the political activist Nguyen Vinh Huu believe that only “who is brave to the point of recklessness and even aggression” like Trump can truly make a difference.
“And that’s what sets him apart from his predecessors. Dealing with China requires such people.”
When Donald Trump came to power, Jung said that he believed that the world would finally “wake up to the dangers of China” and “its new form of communist state capitalism”.
However, Vietnam also has aspirations for economic and political reforms to get rid of the communist one-party rule.
He personally hopes that the United States’ hardline stance on the CCP may have a ripple effect on the entire region-eventually reaching Hanoi.
Japan: ‘It’s about our national security’
Japan has long been regarded as a valuable partner and ally to the United States. However, many people were worried about the impact of his US-first policy on relations after Mr. Trump was elected. Soon after taking office, he cancelled a multilateral trans-Pacific trade agreement and insisted that Japan must pay more to support the US military stationed there.
“Donald Trump is our ally. For Japan, the biggest reason we support him is national security,” said YouTuber Yoko Ishii, who blogs under the name Random Yoko.
She pointed out that Chinese military aircraft and ships frequently invade Japanese airspace and waters. Most of these areas are concentrated in the disputed Senkaku Islands. Tokyo and Beijing both claim to own and call them the Diaoyu Islands.
She said: “We really want a leader from the US that can fight China aggressively.”
“I don’t think anybody can be that outspoken and have such strong presence – it really has to be Donald Trump”.