As Donald Trump gave his acceptance speech to become the next president of the United States, Asia reacted to his shock victory over front-runner Hillary Clinton with a mixture of shock, surprise and optimism.

 

Trump

 

“We just don’t know how a Trump presidency would be with regard to Asia, with regard to security issues such as the South China Sea,” said Richard Heydarian, a Philippine academic, referring to the Republican candidate’s perceived isolationism and threats to force U.S. allies in Asia to fend for themselves.

 

A Trump win could pit the New York tycoon against another loud-mouthed septuagenarian president, that of the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte, who has repeatedly insulted U.S. leaders since taking office in mid-2016.

 

The prospect of the two aging chest thumpers facing off could prove volatile, Heydarian said.

 

“Obama was very calm and rational in the face of Duterte’s comments [calling the US president “a son of a whore”). How will Trump react if Duterte says the same?”

 

At an election event held by the U.S. embassy in Jakarta on Wednesday morning, Nadia Sofiandi, a local businesswoman who recently returned to Indonesia from the U.S., said that Trump’s wariness of free trade deals could benefit Indonesia, a country long known for its own economic nationalism.

 

“We are not part of the TPP [Trans-Pacific Partnership], so if Trump ditches that, it means that Indonesia would not lose out if it goes ahead and we’re not in,” she said.

 

Although Sofiandi and her friend Jesen Kamadjaja dislike Trump’s anti-immigrant and racist rhetoric, they do not expect this to translate into policy if Trump takes office.

 

“I think it’s stuff he says to win the election, he might have a different game plan when in office,” said Kamadjaja.

 

Despite Trump’s anti-Muslim statements, the brash businessman nonetheless has his admirers in the world’s biggest Muslim population country, where businessmen often smoothly make the transition to politics and where a similarly blunt candidate, the former General Prabowo Subianto, came close to winning the presidency in 2014.

 

As Donald Trump spoke to a raucous, cheering crowd of supporters in New York after winning the U.S. presidential election, Asia reacted to his unforeseen triumph over front-runner Hillary Clinton with a mixture of surprise and optimism.

 

“We just don’t know how a Trump presidency would be with regard to Asia, with regard to security issues such as the South China Sea,” said Richard Heydarian, a Philippine political scientist, referring to the Republican candidate’s perceived isolationism and threats to force U.S. allies in Asia to fend for themselves.

 

Trump pledged again to put “America first,” echoing one of his campaign mantras, but in remarks aimed at “the rest of the world, the president-elect said, “we will deal fairly with everyone.”

 

That pledge includes another loud-mouthed septuagenarian president, the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte, who has repeatedly insulted President Barack Obama since taking office in mid-2016.

 

The prospect of the two aging chest thumpers facing off could lead to trouble, Heydarian said. “Obama was very calm and rational in the face of Duterte’s comments [calling the U.S. president “a son of a whore”]. How will Trump react if Duterte says the same?”

 

The Philippine government’s initial reaction to Trump’s surprise win, however, was warm, with the Office of the Communications Secretary stating that “President Rodrigo Roa Duterte wishes to extend his warm congratulations to Mr. Donald Trump on his recent electoral victory as President of the United States of America.”

 

At an election event held by the U.S. embassy in Jakarta, Nadia Sofiandi, a local businesswoman who recently returned to Indonesia from the U.S., said that Trump’s wariness of free trade deals could benefit Indonesia, a country long known for its own economic nationalism.

 

“We are not part of the TPP [Trans-Pacific Partnership], so if Trump ditches that, it means that Indonesia would not lose out if it goes ahead and we’re not in,” she said.

 

Although Sofiandi and her friend Jesen Kamadjaja dislike Trump’s anti-immigrant and racist rhetoric, they do not expect this to translate into policy if Trump takes office.

 

“I think it’s stuff he says to win the election, he might have a different game plan when in office,” said Kamadjaja.

 

Nikkei Asian Review