Chinese state media gently trolled the U.S. on Wednesday as the presidential election ground its way into an inconclusive second day. But China spared the drama, and didn’t take strategic advantage of the American political stalemate. Asia’s investment markets also took the election turmoil in their stride.
The Global Times, an influential tabloid affiliated with the Communist Party’s official mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, dished out a steady stream of ribbingly negative stories through Tuesday and Wednesday. Its headlines included: “Thousands of U.S. National Guard troops activated to brace for possible election unrest”; “NYC sees no major demonstrations being planned on Election Day”; and “Over 850,000 children in U.S. test positive for COVID-19.”
And with two opinion pieces, it pinged the U.S. for the chaos of the Trump era and its destructive impact. “U.S. election uncertainty beyond technicalities” and “U.S. election stalls global COVID-19 fight.”
“The election mechanism of the U.S. has been riddled with loopholes, filled with, implicitly or explicitly, individual or collective interests of political parties and elites,” the Global Times said, calling it a “tragedy.”
There was also significant social media chatter in mainland China about the U.S.’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, which became official today, and China’s contrasting embrace of multilateralism in its approach to tackling climate change.
The Alibaba-owned South China Morning Post, Hong Kong’s leading English-language newspaper, noted how the election can be seen as a distraction from other issues. “U.S. approves drone sale to Taiwan while all eyes on White House race” was its lead China story on Wednesday afternoon.
China, however, did not take advantage of the U.S. political impasse to invade Taiwan, as some observers had feared.
Meanwhile, although analysts had worried that North Korea may indulge in a stunt to grab attention from the election or take advantage of the global distraction to carry out its own affairs, media reports were largely focused on a domestic crisis.
Overseas-based NK News reported that the country now has 5,368 coronavirus cases — a shocking increase from the zero cases less than a month ago. NK reports that many of the infections may be linked to a huge military parade that took place on Oct. 10.
South Korean media also reported a worrying development related to the North’s nuclear arsenal. “One of the submarines North Korea is building can carry a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM),” said Ha Tae-keung, an opposition party lawmaker on parliament’s intelligence committee.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has met on three occasions with U.S. President Donald Trump. However, the pair has failed to secure a new nuclear deal due to their disagreements. A fourth meeting between the two leaders was mooted before Tuesday’s election, and might have given Trump a foreign policy win. It did not materialize, but stands a higher chance of taking place if Trump wins reelection.
Meanwhile, Asian stock markets moved in different directions on Wednesday. Japan’s Nikkei index, which closed its Wednesday session before Trump’s assertion of election victory, was up 1.7%. Korea’s KOSPI was up 0.6%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was down by 0.17%, dragged down by a 6% plunge by Alibaba. The latter fall followed the shocking overnight news that the $37 billion IPO of Alibaba-affiliate Ant Group had been halted by mainland Chinese regulators.
Overall, the U.S. currency strengthened against the Chinese Yuan, from RMB6.68 to the dollar, to RMB6.72 by 4 p.m. Hong Kong/Beijing time Wednesday. The spot price of gold was down 1% at $1.899, according to Bloomberg.