US election: World reacts

Asia expects Biden to stress diplomacy

China's leadership remains silent as other govts express hopes for closer relations

A painting in the Indian city of Mumbai yesterday showing the US' President-elect Joe Biden and his second-in-command Kamala Harris. Most government leaders in Asia have expressed hopes of strengthening ties with Mr Biden's administration and politic
A painting in the Indian city of Mumbai yesterday showing the US' President-elect Joe Biden and his second-in-command Kamala Harris. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

While congratulatory messages for US President-elect Joe Biden pour in from across the globe, politicians from one country have stayed conspicuously silent.

China's leaders held back from commenting on the results of the United States election, and Chinese state media largely reported just the news of Mr Biden's win.

But the hawkish Communist Party-backed Global Times took aim at the US in two editorials over the weekend.

One described the "negative effects of indulging and intensifying social divisions" resulting in "a destructive tipping point", while the other said "the balance of power in the election shows that the serious social division has jeopardised Americans' judgment".

China-US ties have worsened significantly in recent years, with tensions bubbling on multiple fronts, including the pandemic and tussles over trade and technology.

Others around the world were more upbeat, with government leaders expressing hopes of strengthening ties with Mr Biden's administration and political watchers predicting a return to more congenial diplomacy.

"Congratulations @JoeBiden... on your spectacular victory!" Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted yesterday. "I look forward to working closely together once again to take India-US relations to greater heights."

In a tweet to Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris, referencing her South Asian roots, he wrote: "Your success is path-breaking, and a matter of immense pride not just for your chittis (aunties), but also for all Indian Americans."

Ms Harris had spoken in August of her Tamil-origin mother and "chittis" when accepting the Democratic Party's nomination.

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin noted: "The American voters have decided decisively in endorsing Mr Biden... for his leadership and vision."

Thai Premier Prayut Chan-o-cha congratulated Mr Biden and Ms Harris on the trust they had earned from the American voters, while Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he was "looking forward to closely working" with Mr Biden's new administration.

Mr Duterte had previously said he preferred to see Mr Donald Trump re-elected, having been criticised by US Democrats over his drug war and crackdown on civil liberties.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he looked forward to strengthening the Japan-US alliance and ensuring peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific.

Japanese media cited government sources as saying that Mr Suga hopes to meet Mr Biden in the US as soon as possible after he is sworn in on Jan 20.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in expressed "great expectations" for the future of the country's ties with the US.

Singapore Institute of International Affairs senior fellow Oh Ei Sun said Mr Biden's win will usher in a more liberal administration for the US, with increasing domestic concerns such as affirmative actions and immigration.

"Internationally, it would mean a less transactional, more predictable America which once again embraces multilateralism and free trade," Dr Oh said.

Dr Dinna Prapto Raharja of Indonesia's Bina Nusantara University agreed, saying: "Under Trump, the US has shunned several multilateral diplomacy forums. We expect this to reverse."

Public policy lecturer Huynh The Du of Fulbright University in Vietnam said: "Biden is very experienced... Other countries want some kind of leadership from the US, to uphold a world order. The Biden leadership may be clearer than the Trump administration on this aspect."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 09, 2020, with the headline 'Asia expects Biden to stress diplomacy'. Print Edition | Subscribe