Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump came out swinging in a contentious first showdown. Both entered the debate trying to win support from an unusually high number of voters who remain undecided.

China tunes in to U.S. presidential debate to witness 'a drama of hurting each other'

China’s state broadcasters did not air the U.S. presidential debate, but hundreds of thousands of Chinese watched it online.

Among them was Yin Hao, an engineering student at South China University of Technology in the southeastern city of Guangzhou. He live-streamed translations and commentary from his dorm room.

An devotee of American politics, Yin started posting on the presidential race soon after Hillary Clinton won the Democratic nomination.

Chinese viewers mostly tuned in to the debate to see the spectacle of Donald Trump, Yin said.

"But I think they are a little bit disappointed," he said after it was over.

He remained hopeful: “The first debate and atmosphere is not so combative. Later maybe they’ll turn on the heat.”

More than 118,000 people watched a live stream of the debate on Weibo, China's version of Twitter, making it the 18th most popular topic on the site.

Many of their more than 2,500 comments focused on Clinton's appearance and Trump's penchant for falsehoods.

“Hillary’s lipstick fits her suit well,” one person wrote.

“Trump’s mouth is full of bull,” wrote another. 

Some took the opportunity to offer suggestions for their own one-party political system or speculate on what each candidate would mean for China.

“China should elect its president this way,” somebody posted in a not-so-subtle dig at Communism.

“If Trump is elected, he will be like the president of the Philippines, who has a big mouth,” another wrote. “The world will become as thrilling as a roller coaster."

"If Hillary is elected, she will continue her tough foreign policy towards China, but her husband will help to improve the economy. So our economy will be better too!”

Before the debates, the official Xinhua News agency wrote offered this brief preview: “The American voters are going to watch a drama of hurting each other.”

Nicole Liu and Yingzhi Yang in the Times’ Beijing bureau contributed to this report.

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