First US Presidential Debate Evokes Reflections from Asian Powers

First US Presidential Debate Evokes Reflections from Asian Powers

The US presidential election is being closely watched by Asia’s rising powers. Today’s post highlights Indian, Chinese, and Russian commentary on last week’s debate and the upcoming election between President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney.


Describing the first debate as “a low-key, at times pedantic, exchange,” The Hindu anticipated that in the next debate on foreign policy issues, “Washington’s disastrous policies in West Asia and Afghanistan may be examined, forays that neither Mr. Obama nor his challenger seems to know how to handle.”

On a different note, columnist Tavleen Singh in The Indian Express used the occasion to “brood over how many Indian political leaders could hold their own in such a debate,” lamenting the dynastic nature of Indian politics and the failure of political leaders to “sell India a new dream.”


Chinese commentators took issue with the extent of campaign rhetoric that has been critical of China:

  • “Admittedly, presidential candidates’ comments on China are aimed at winning the election,” said Yan Xuetong, director of Tsinghua University’s Institute of Modern International Relations. “However, objectively, they will have a negative impact on Sino-US relations.”


In his speech accepting the Republican nomination for president, Mitt Romney vowed to take a hard line in dealing with Russia. Earlier in the campaign, Romney cited Russia as “our number one geopolitical foe.” Such comments have led to a wide array of responses from Russian officials:

  • Last month, Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, blasted Romney’s anti-Russian statements, saying relations between the two countries must not become hostage to individual ambitions to win an election.
  • In a recent interview, Putin praised US-Russia relations with the Obama Administration, despite ongoing differences over missile defense. He noted that “There have been more reasons to be optimistic about our bilateral relations,” and that “My feeling is that he [Obama] is a sincere man and that he sincerely wants to implement positive change.” On Romney, President Putin commented that, “As for Mr. Romney’s position, we understand that this is to a certain extent motivated by election campaign rhetoric, but I also think that he was obviously wrong, because such behavior on the international arena is the same as using nationalism and segregation as tools of US domestic policy.”
  • Alexei Pushkov, head of the Duma’s International Affairs Committee, warned that Romney’s anti-Russian messages won’t win him the White House. “Romney is now trying to play on the deep frustration of part of US public troubled by the fact that the center of power, primarily economic, is increasingly shifting to China, i.e. from the Western world to Asia,” he said.