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Trump Press Conference: World Reaction to President-Elect's Comments

Americans weren’t the only ones tuning into Donald Trump’s first press conference in six months.
A copy of the local Chinese magazine Global People features a cover story on Donald Trump's election victory at a newsstand in Shanghai on Nov. 14.Johannes Eisele / AFP - Getty Images file

Americans weren’t the only ones tuning into Donald Trump’s first press conference since being elected president of the U.S. — citizens of countries around the world watched for clues on how the new administration would impact their lives.

As his comments reverberated throughout the globe, people shared their views on America’s next leader.


Regular citizens on the streets of Tokyo said they were nervous about what a Trump presidency would bring in terms of trade ties and more.

“It makes me worried about the future, not just in terms of the economy but that this might spread to other issues,” said Kazuko Ogasawara, a 37-year-old office worker.

Takato Fujime said he was calmer about the Trump presidency, adding he was not too alarmed by the comments.

“I wasn’t surprised by his remarks but I wonder whether he actually has the power to go through with his threats,” the 32-year-old said.

On Wednesday, the president-elect called out Japan — one of the U.S.’s most important allies and trading partners — as an example of a country where America made “bad deals.”

Related: Trump Presser Leaves Big Questions on Ethics, Russia, Health Care

“We have hundreds of billions of dollars of losses on a yearly basis — hundreds of billions with China on trade and trade imbalance, with Japan, with Mexico, with just about everybody. We don’t make good deals anymore,” he said.

Officials, meanwhile, emphasized the importance of strong trade ties between the two countries.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.AFP - Getty Images

“Robust trade and investments serve as the main source for a vibrant Japan-U.S. economic relationship,” Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told journalists in Tokyo. “This is free trade, something that the United States advocates, and we believe [Trump] will continue to push forward these things.”

Suga, who is the government's main spokesman, went on to use U.S. government statistics to underline Japan’s importance to America: Japanese investment in the U.S. stands at $411 billion and has created 840,000 jobs.

“I think we can say that Japanese companies are already being recognized as good corporate citizens in the United States,” Suga added.


Irina Smirnova shrugged off Trump's alleged ties to Russia.

"We don't care [about Trump], as long as life's good in Russia," the unemployed 39-year-old said in Moscow. "It's hard to say how he'll impact us, he's a pretty two-faced man, a complicated man. Unpredictable. You can expect anything from him.

While calling him "a sly man, not as simple as he wants to look," she said that Russian intelligence services could well have hacked U.S. accounts in an effort to influence the election as they have been accused of.

"It's possible — our guys are totally capable of this," Smirnova said.

Related: Donald Trump Wasn't Told About Unverified Russia Dossier, Official Says

English teacher Anatoly Mukhachyov said he just hoped for the best.

"I hope that with Donald Trump's arrival, the relations between Russia and the United States will change," the 67-year-old said.


China was a focus of Trump’s criticism throughout the press conference with the president-elect Trump calling out Beijing for hacking attacks, taking “total advantage of us economically” and building up artificial islands in contested waters in the South China Sea.

Victor Gao, the director of the China National Association of International Studies and Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping's former interpreter, said Trump was trying to deflect attention from recent reports about his alleged ties to Russia by lashing out at China.

Tom Quan
Tom QuanEd Flanagan / NBC News

Donald Trump is “fiercely defending his own reputation by shifting the attention from Russia to China,” he said, calling the president-elect “very much misguided.”

Tom Quan, a marketing specialist, said Trump should do his research before accusing China.

“I think a politician should avoid making groundless conclusions,” said the 52-year-old resident of Beijing. “It’s better if they make statements after the relevant departments’ analysis. It’s more convincing if what you say is backed by evidence.”

Chang Moujun, a 30-year-old Beijing finance worker, downplayed the president-elect’s comments, adding that even if China was involved in hacking so was the U.S.

“His intention is to attract attention. After all, he hasn’t taken office yet. He might tone down a little after he officially assumes office,” he said.


German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he was "perplexed" by Trump’s Nazi comparison.

"To be honest, about your question about the comparison with Nazi Germany, I am as perplexed as you are, I can't interpret that," he told reporters. During the election campaign, Steinmeier said the prospect of a Trump presidency was a "frightening" for the world and compared Trump to a "hate preacher", saying he had much in common with "fearmongers" in Germany's right-wing populist AfD party.

Professor Tobias Endler described Trump’s behavior as laughable at times, but he also criticized the president-elect for invoking Nazi-era Germany, to describe the press’ treatment of recent salacious and unconfirmed reports about his ties to Russia.

"I had to grin several times,” the professor of American Studies at Heidelberg University told NBC News’ partner ZDF. “But in regard to the power of the office you choke on the laughter. Trump's speech reminded of a sitcom, which at the end was more like a horror comedy.”

Before and during the press conference Trump said it was “disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake out… something that Nazi Germany would have done and did do.”

Endler responded to this by saying:

"Trump repeated this in the press conference and gave room to conspiracy theories. 'Lying press,' which spreads fake news and takes a last shot at him. Trump [presents] himself as a potential victim. The comparison to Nazi Germany is impossible. That is belittling, distorting and an insult to the victims of Nazi Germany."


Haim Dekel said that while he liked Trump's personality, he was worried about the effects of a Trump presidency.

Haim Dekel
Haim DekelLawahez Jabari / NBC News

"He has a great personality, is a daring and crazy guy," the 61-year-old pilot said. "You never know what’s going to happen with him. He is childish and now the world is a big playground for him."

Dekel added: "I don’t think he is going to do good for my country — it looks as if he is going to be good, but its going to be disaster.

Trump has criticized recent President Barack Obama decisions related to to Israel — most recently the administration's decision to abstain from a United Nations resolution labeling Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegal.

West Bank

In the West Bank, Ahmad Safi, a 38-year-old Palestinian government worker, said Trump’s reported ties to Russia foreshadowed Moscow’s resurgence as a power in the Middle East.

“It is a time for Russia to be a part of the Middle East while it was disappeared for a long time,” he said. “I think the time now is for Russia to be ruling this area.”

Ahmed Safi
Ahmad SafiKhaldoon Eid / NBC News

Safi went on to say that he thought Trump was the right leader for the U.S. — but not for the reasons many Americans would hope.

“He’s the best man to represent the USA because he will take it down. No one can attack America from outside,” he said. “If anyone wants to take it from inside it must Donald Trump.”