Chinese bemused but optimistic at surprise Trump win

BEIJING - Chinese greeted Donald Trump's victory with a mix of optimism and bemusement Wednesday, unsure how the US president-elect who demonised their country on the campaign trail would approach it once in office.

Communist-ruled China does not hold competitive elections of its own, and while most of Beijing went about its daily business, a few small groups of die-hard political fans gathered to watch the results come in.

Many started off expecting a win for Trump's Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and were surprised to see the businessman take an early lead in polling.

At an event hosted by the US Embassy, two rooms full of people cheered excitedly when CNN announced Clinton had won California.

"That was expected," a moderator, tasked with explaining the intricacies of the US election system, tersely informed them.

Donald Trump wins US presidency in stunning upset

  • Donald Trump has stunned America and the world, riding a wave of populist resentment to defeat Hillary Clinton in the race to become the 45th president of the United States.
  • The Republican mogul defeated his Democratic rival, plunging global markets into turmoil and casting the long-standing global political order, which hinges on Washington's leadership, into doubt.
  • "Now it is time for America to bind the wounds of division," Trump told a crowd of jubilant supporters in the early hours of Wednesday in New York.
  • "I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans." During a bitter two-year campaign that tugged at America's democratic fabric, the bombastic tycoon pledged to deport illegal immigrants, ban Muslims from the country and tear up free trade deals.
  • His message appears to have been embraced by much of America's white majority, disgruntled by the breath and scope of social change and economic change in the last eight years under their first black president, Barack Obama.
  • Trump openly courted Russian leader Vladimir Putin, called US support for NATO allies in Europe into question and suggested that South Korea and Japan should develop their own nuclear weapons.
  • The businessman turned TV star turned-politico - who has never before held elected office - will become commander-in-chief of the world's sole true superpower on January 20.
  • The results prompted a global market sell-off, with stocks plunging across Asia and Europe and billions being wiped off the value of investments.
  • Although he has no government experience and in recent years has spent as much time running beauty pageants and starring in reality television as he had building his property empire, Trump at 70 will be the oldest man to ever become president.
  • Yet, during his improbable rise, Trump has constantly proved the pundits and received political wisdom wrong.
  • Opposed by the entire senior hierarchy of his own Republican Party, he trounced more than a dozen better-funded and more experienced rivals in the party primary.
  • During the race, he was forced to ride out allegations of sexual assault and was embarrassed but apparently not shamed to have been caught on tape boasting about groping women.
  • And, unique in modern US political history, he refused to release his tax returns.
  • But the biggest upset came on Tuesday, as he swept to victory through a series of hard-fought wins in battleground states from Florida to Ohio.
  • Clinton had been widely assumed to be on course to enter the history books as the first woman to become president in America's 240-year existence.
  • Americans have repudiated her call for unity amid the United States' wide cultural and racial diversity, opting instead for a leader who insisted the country is broken and that "I alone can fix it."
  • If early results hold out, Trump's party will have full control of Congress and he will be able to appoint a ninth Supreme Court justice to a vacant seat on the bench, deciding the balance of the body.
  • So great was the shock that Clinton did not come out to her supporters' poll-watching party to concede defeat, but instead called Trump and sent her campaign chairman to insist in vain the result was too close to call.
  • "I want every person in this hall to know, and I want every person across the country who supported Hillary to know that your voices and your enthusiasm mean so much to her and to him and to all of us. We are so proud of you. And we are so proud of her," chairman John Podesta told shell-shocked supporters.
  • "She's done an amazing job, and she is not done yet," he insisted.
  • Musician Lagy Gaga stages a protest against Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on a sanitation truck outside Trump Tower in New York City after midnight on election day November 9, 2016.
  • A street performer dressed as the Statue of Liberty hold photos of U.S. presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton at the financial Central district in Hong Kong, China November 9, 2016, after Trump won the presidency.
  • A "Naked Cowboy" performer supporting Donald Trump walks through Times Square in New York, November 9, 2016.
  • People react as they watch news on a screen to follow the results of the final day of the US presidential election at an event organised by the American consulate in Shanghai on November 9, 2016.
  • Protesters against president-elect Donald Trump march peacefully through Oakland, California.
  • A separate group earlier in the night set fire to garbage bins and smashed multiple windows.
  • Police officers chase a group of about 50 protesters.
  • University of California, Davis students protest on campus in Davis, California.
  • An invitee places a cookie depicting U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on a table at the US presidential election results watch party at the residence of US Ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, in Tokyo.

But as Trump's victory looked assured, many in the room argued that the former reality TV star's experience in business meant he would prioritise economic relations over thorny questions about security and human rights that they associated with Clinton's time as secretary of state.

Despite Trump's campaign promises to hit Chinese-made goods with a 45 per cent tariff, teacher Zhang Meiyang said she thought "he will have some very friendly foreign policies towards China".

Graduate student Ren Hong, 36, told AFP she found Trump "friendly, but also aggressive".

He "might be a good president" domestically, she said, but was less sure how his presidency would affect her country.

"I think that he must take some actions that are not beneficial for China... but I think it's a good chance for both China and America to build a new relationship," she said.

Under Barack Obama, China and the United States have been at loggerheads over a wide range of issues including the South China Sea, cybersecurity and the Asian giant's trade policies.

Solutions for massive global issues, such as climate change, will be unreachable without co-operation between the world's two largest economies.

At the Bridge Cafe in Beijing's student district of Wudaokou, not far from the campuses of China's two most prestigious universities, students ate paninis and plates of bacon and eggs as they watched a live-stream of the election results.

"You don't really know who to trust, so I'm just treating it as a kind of show and am just enjoying the process without caring about the result," said Ariel Zhang, 30, flipping through photos on social media comparing Trump's golden bouffant hairdo to the wisps on a corn cob.

Piano student Liu Xiaofan, 24, questioned whether Trump voters had really thought through their decision.

"They keep saying that Trump will usher in a new era but many people don't understand," she said, adding: "They just hear what he says at his speeches and then it's like their brain lights up, and they just follow whatever he says."

Near Shanghai's Jing An Temple, resident Dai Liyan predicted the election result would devastate the economy.

It "will mainly affect the market," she said.

"With a president with a bad image, the US dollar could weaken, this kind of thing. I have a friend who bought gold to hedge the risk."

But many online users felt the change of leadership boded well for their country's future - after newly elected Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte visited Beijing he reoriented his foreign policy towards China.

"I have to say, China's national luck is really good!" said one user on the popular microblogging site Weibo.