The US Presidential debate aired on Tuesday 29th September, the first of three to be held between the end of September and late October, as the 2020 US Presidential Campaign trail continued in earnest.
Around the world, the reaction to the debate has been of shock and surprise at how quickly it devolved into a slanging match. How different countries around the globe reported on the story in their media revealed plenty about their natural temperament and character, as well as their political relationship with the US.
Using this common event offers great insight into the different perspectives and outlooks of different regions – a useful thought exercise when considering your own company’s overseas reputation.
Let’s take a look at some headlines from around the world.
Most of China’s official state media took a policy of ignoring the events of their political rival, following a heated trade war with America earlier in the year. The few Chinese media outlets that covered the debate highlighted how each candidate used China as a stick to beat his opponent.
The state-run paper the Global Times described it as “the most chaotic presidential debate ever” and Hu Xijn, the paper’s editor-in-chief, used his Twitter profile to point out the apparent “division, anxiety of US society and the accelerating loss of advantages of the US political system”.
In contrast to the China-US relationship, we’re known for our close ties to Washington, a relationship known to many as the ‘Special Relationship’. However, these close ties might have weakened slightly since the Inauguration of the 45th POTUS.
The reaction in the UK to the debate was one of shock. The Guardian described the debate as a ‘national humiliation’ for the US, and wrote “the rest of the world – and future historians – will presumably look at it and weep,” and that Mr Biden was the one to look “remotely Presidential”.
Russia is another country that has a long and fraught political history with the US, with the Cold War representing almost half a century of tension between the two global powerhouses. Since Trump’s Inauguration, the US-Russia relationship has become somewhat friendlier as Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin have found at least some shared ground.
During the debate, Mr Biden called Mr Trump “Putin’s puppy”, which led to lots of comment from Russian nationals online. One Twitter commentator said, “two old men are figuring out which of them is more worthy to become the president of the United States, but without Putin, you can’t boost your rating”, perhaps reflecting the view in Russia that as long as Mr Trump remains President, Russia may continue to hold the upper hand in relations between the two powerhouse nations.
It appears the debate was lost in translation in Japan. Interpreters had the almost impossible task of translating the debate in real-time, which was little more than a public slanging match between two demonstrably unnatural orators.
Add in the stilted contributions of the moderator, the translators had the task of making sense of what amounted to three men speaking over each other and exchanging insults for an hour and a half.
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