China, which would have been expected to favor Mr. Reagan for his hard-line attitude toward the Soviet Union, reacted with initial caution toward his election.
This reaction is undoubtedly due to Peking's previous irritation with early campaign statements made by Mr. Reagan on establishing official ties with Taiwan. The Republican presidential candidate subsequently backed down when the issue threatened to damage him politically.
As a result, Peking did not go beyond expressing hope for a continuing strengthening of relations between the two countries based on principles agreed between them.
Throughout the rest of Asia the words of congratulation to Ronald Reagan were paper thin. The real question here is not what Ronald Reagan says. It is who he appoints and what he will do.
Most noncommunist Asian governments favor a strong US military presence in the area, so Mr. Reaganhs emphasis on reviving US power and public support for this is well received.
South Korea's security-conscious government welcomed the Reagan election, seeing the possibility of a tougher, more assertive US less concerned with human rights. By the same token, political dissidents in authoritarian countries like South Korea and the Philippines feel defeat.
In some Japanese circles there was concern the US President-elect might press Japan more sharply to boost defense spending or take a harder line in curbing Japan's car exports to the US.