All eyes on US elections

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    THE world is watching as votes are being counted in the United States, with incumbent President Donald Trump of the Republican party hanging on for dear life because the challenger, Joe Biden of the Democrats, is leading. The latest tally is that Biden leads with 264 votes against Trump’s 214. The electoral votes tally needed to be elected president is 270. The official announcement on the final results of the elections may have to wait for a few more hours, or possibly even days, because of the deluge of mail-in ballots that need to be counted.

    Even if we have 2 to 3 million Filipinos and Filipino immigrants in the US, whoever will win in the current presidential elections will have little bearing on the Philippines, as US foreign policy about PH and Southeast Asia had been stable.

    President Duterte had been heard before as endorsing another Trump administration, perhaps because he sees several similarities in his own position on issues and Trump’s, such as about the Paris Climate Change Agreement. In the run-up to the elections, however, Duterte had been quiet.

    ‘…perennial critics of President Duterte in the Philippines like to equate the expected electoral ouster of Trump to their dream of ousting Duterte from office, and they are now all over social media touting this message.’

    One of the issues that weigh heavily on the US foreign policy index is its China policy, and on this one particular item, the Philippines necessarily is attached. In recent months, President Trump had been combative with China, imposing stringent tariffs on imports from China, which badly hurt American businessmen and consumers more than it did the Chinese. US manufacturers who lost revenues and American workers who lost their jobs in the process resented their President’s unpopular trade war, the reason perhaps Biden is leading the race.

    A Trump victory means a continuation of the “trade war,” “tech war” and decoupling he had waged the past four years. If Biden wins, however, more sanguine policies concerning China may be expected. James Traub, a fellow at New York University’s Center on International Cooperation, wrote: “Biden has simply learned that beating up on China has become a cost-free way to prove your toughness… (but) He and his advisors recognize that they will not make progress on transnational issues like climate change or pandemics without the active engagement of the world’s biggest economy.”

    Trump’s propensity to ramp up criticisms and disagreements with China is now met with the nascent movement in America which calls itself, “No Cold War.” The movement has a statement soliciting signatures from all over the world titled, “A New Cold War against China is against the interests of humanity.” Fourteen groups make up the No Col War movement, mostly peace and anti-war organizations but with global memberships.

    The group calls out the US under Trump to step back from this threat of a Cold War and other dangerous threats to world peace such as withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces agreement, withdrawal from the Paris Climate Change Accords, and its increasing disengagement from UN bodies. The US should also stop pressuring other countries to adopt such dangerous positions, they said.

    An election victory by Biden will sort of reverse these policies of the Republican party. While this may be good for the Americans, the perennial critics of President Duterte in the Philippines like to equate the expected electoral ouster of Trump to their dream of ousting Duterte from office, and they are now all over social media touting this message. These people cannot wait for the next Philippine presidential elections in 2022 and would even want Duterte to prematurely end his term. They are dreaming, of course.