- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The rest of the world saw pretty much the presidential debate American pundits did, with many foreign critics saying Republican Donald Trump proved less than ready for prime time but faulting Democrat Hillary Clinton for failing to put away her less experienced foe.

Global investors also weighed in: Mexico’s peso, which has regularly moved in the opposite direction from Mr. Trump’s poll numbers, rose by 2 percent. But China’s yuan, which the Republican claimed was being artificially propped up by Beijing, barely moved as investors shrugged off Mr. Trump’s criticisms.

The government in Beijing, however, responded swiftly to Mr. Trump’s assertion during the debate that China isn’t putting enough pressure on North Korea over its nuclear program, which has sent tensions soaring on the Korean peninsula lately.

“China should solve that problem for us,” Mr. Trump said at one point. “China should go into North Korea. China is totally powerful as it relates to North Korea.”

Just hours after the debate had ended, Chinese Foreign Minister spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters in Beijing that “China has been making unremitting efforts with all sides concerned to achieve a proper resolution over the … nuclear issue.”

China wasn’t the only nation watching closely.

Talk radio carried lively post-debate discussions in West Africa. “With his temperament, America cannot entrust Donald Trump with nuclear weapons,” said David Targbeh, the co-host of the “New Dawn” show in Liberia. He also accused the Republican nominee of displaying “his usual racist posture.”

The debate also dominated headlines in Europe, with most news outlets crediting Mrs. Clinton for appearing prepared and faulting Mr. Trump’s unconventional foreign policy views.

After 30 years in the public spotlight, including four years as President Obama’s top diplomat, Mrs. Clinton is a far better known figure than her GOP rival, and much of the overseas critique focused on Mr. Trump.

Mr. Clinton “dominated,” according to France’s Le Monde, which called Mr. Trump “out of his depth.” The digital edition of Spain’s El Pais ran with the headline: “Clinton corners Trump with attacks on his racism and lack of preparation.”

Even the conservative Spanish daily ABC said, “The impression [was] that the ex-secretary of state did her homework … and transmit[ed] a more presidential image.”

Germany’s Der Spiegel called Mr. Trump “erratic and uncertain, and German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel told the daily newspaper Bild that Mrs. Clinton was the clear winner: “Trump didn’t have a plan. Neither for the U.S. nor for the big foreign policy challenges. Clinton convinced with competence and clarity. It was a clear victory for her.”

Added, Financial Times columnist Edward Luce, “People thought Donald Trump was gaming expectations when he said he had not spent much time working on the first presidential debate. It turns out he was telling the truth.”

“Mr. Trump set his bar as low as possible yet was still unable to clear it. It did not seem as if he even tried,” Mr. Luce wrote, adding the candidate gave “rambling and self-congratulatory” answers about this tax returns and his stoking of Obama birther theories.

But not everyone saw Mr. Trump as the loser. Tim Stanley, a columnist for Britain’s conservative Daily Telegraph, said the Republican won the debate but may lose the election.

“In terms of reality TV, he did well,” Mr. Stanley wrote. “He harassed, he shouted, he taunted, he talked over. And Clinton let him do it.”

An international diplomat who spoke anonymously with The Washington Times said the debate solidified how “both of the candidates are weak and lacking vision needed to lead the world.”

“Trump, especially, he has no ideology, or his ideology is only money,” said the diplomat. “But Clinton, as well. Neither of them showed real vision for the future when it comes to solving things like the war in Syria.”

In China, meanwhile, communications studies graduate student Wang Pei suggested Mr. Trump had been outdone by Mrs. Clinton.

“I personally like Trump’s character and the feeling that he’s a fighter,” Mr. Wang said. “But from today’s performance, I think Clinton was more like a mature politician and Trump looked a bit like a misfit in this kind of setting.”

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

• Guy Taylor can be reached at gtaylor@washingtontimes.com.

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