World watches US election closely

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(AP) – Chinese state media and government-backed commentators are continuing to signal Beijing’s preference for a Donald Trump win in the U.S. presidential election.

Like Russia, China is seen as favoring Trump because he appears less willing to confront China’s newly robust foreign policy, particularly in the South China Sea. Clinton, by contrast, is disliked in Beijing for having steered the U.S. “pivot” to Asia aimed at strengthening U.S. engagement with the region, particularly in the military sphere.

Writing in the Communist Party newspaper Global Times, scholar Mei Xinyu says: “From a comprehensive view, it would make it easier for China to cope if Trump is elected. This is because under the policy line advocated by Obama and Clinton, the political and military frictions between China and the U.S. will be more frequent.”

U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus says “the world’s most important relationship” between Beijing and Washington will remain stable regardless of the outcome of the U.S. presidential election.

Asked by a Chinese reporter about Trump’s proposal for a 45 percent tariff on Chinese goods imported in the U.S., Baucus says that “people say a lot of things in the heat of a campaign that are not quite as feasible as they think when they’re elected.”

Trump has also pledged to withdraw U.S. support for the Paris climate change agreement that was reached largely through hard negotiating with China.

Baucus says he doesn’t believe the two countries would stop collaborating on issues already agreed to, including climate change, containing North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and reaching a political settlement in Afghanistan.

In his words, “The issues are the same, the good faith is the same.”

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has told an aide that “the competition is closer than expected” in the U.S. election.

Aide Tateo Kawamura tells Japan’s Kyodo News service that Abe is following the vote count in his office.

The Japanese government has remained neutral in public statements, but analysts on both sides of the Pacific have talked about a possible change in U.S. policy toward Japan and the rest of Asia if Republican candidate Donald Trump should win.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga is reaffirming his government’s commitment to the U.S.-Japan security alliance. He tells reporters that whoever is the next president, the Japan-U.S. alliance will remain the cornerstone of Japan-U.S. diplomacy.

South of the US border the Mexican peso has fallen sharply against the U.S. dollar as early returns show a tight race for the White House.

Financial research firm FactSet says the currency is currently trading at 20.45 to the dollar. The Bank of Mexico’s interbank rate stood at 18.42 at the end of Tuesday’s trading day.

The peso has closely tracked the U.S. presidential race during the campaign, hardening when Clinton’s chances are seen as bullish and weakening when Donald Trump is seen as rising.

Financial analyst Gabriela Siller of Banco BASE issued a forecast Tuesday that a Trump victory could cause the peso to fall to 24 to the dollar next year and lead to a 3 percent economic contraction in Mexico.

Trump has threatened to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement and vows to build a wall along the United States’ southern border and force Mexico to pay for it.

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