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For Americans in China, surprise and uncertainty over Trump win

For Americans living on the mainland and Hong Kong, Donald Trump’s victory came with a big question mark on his policies once in the Oval Office.

“America showed today that there is still a long way to go in terms of fixing xenophobia and racial tension,” said Leah, an American expatriate working in Beijing who refused to give her full name. She felt “truly disappointed” that Hillary Clinton failed to “break the highest of glass ceilings”.

“So maybe now that America’s true feelings are out in the open, we can begin to fix these deep divides among us.”

Maura Mckay, a recent college graduate who came to Shanghai to teach maths, said questioned how much Trump’s supporters knew about the man they elected. “I am devastated because I didn’t want Trump to be the president…. Just because they didn’t agree with Hillary, they automatically vote for Trump, without even caring about what he does and what his character is about,” Mckay said.

Another segment of voters simply backed him because they shared his values of “misogyny and racism”.

But for Frank Parker, a registered Republican and a property investment consultant at Atlas Blue Property in Shanghai, a Trump victory was always certain.

“It’s hard to say what the future looks like after this election, though I am happy to see the Republicans have won both the House and Senate. Hopefully they can keep Trump on a tight leash,” Parker said.

As the dust settles and the shock recedes, the focus will turn to Trump’s campaign promises and whether he will follow through.

“He needs to bring in capable people to manage China-US relationship in a positive way … They may try to restrain some of his ideas,” said James Zimmerman, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China.

But global leaders should recognise the anxiety of the American public that was reflected in the election, Zimmerman said.

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“The Chinese government should take a more global approach, be less insular and more proactive [in market access],” he said.

Trump’s unconventional and outspoken style in his campaign cast doubt on how he is able to handle policies.

Lisa Hellier, who is studying Chinese language in Shanghai, said her main concern was how Trump represented her country on the world stage. “What Trump says and does are against American values and against what America stands for because America is supposed to be a country for freedom and right,” Hellier said.

In Hong Kong, hundreds of Americans attended an election watch party at Pacific Place organised by the American Chamber of Commerce.

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Alex Montgomery, the vice chair of Democrats Abroad Hong Kong, said he was deeply disappointed at how the election unfolded. “Apparently we underestimated Trump’s popularity.”

Tariq Dennison, the secretary of Republicans Overseas Hong Kong, one of the only few Republicans at the event, said he too was surprised by the results. “In the past two years, including with Brexit, the polls have been kind of off,” he said.

Additional report by Laura Zhou