Congratulatory messages pour in for Biden

US President-elect Joe Biden greets supporters in Wilmington, Delaware, on Nov 7, 2020.
US President-elect Joe Biden greets supporters in Wilmington, Delaware, on Nov 7, 2020.PHOTO: X90054

Congratulatory messages to US President-elect Joe Biden are pouring in from around the world after his victory in the American presidential election over President Donald Trump.

World leaders and government officials have expressed hopes of strengthening ties between the US and their countries under Mr Biden, while analysts have indicated that the prospects for a return to more congenial diplomacy were high after the departure of Mr Trump and his often coercive foreign policy.

Japan

In an early morning tweet hours after the winner of the United States presidential election was confirmed, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga offered his congratulations to Mr Biden and Vice -President-elect Kamala Harris.

"I look forward to working with you to further strengthen the Japan-US alliance and ensure peace, freedom, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond," Mr Suga said in both English and Japanese.

Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi added that he "looks forward to working closely with the new administration to further promote Japan-US relations and to overcome challenges the world faces".

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South Korea 

South Korean President Moon Jae-in sent a congratulatory message to Mr Biden, voicing "great expectations" for the future of bilateral ties. 

"Our alliance is strong and the bond between our two countries is rock-solid," Mr Moon wrote on Twitter. "I very much look forward to working with you for our shared values. I have great expectations of advancing and opening up the future development of our bilateral relations."

"Katchi Kapshida! (Korean for let's go together)" Mr Moon added, repeating Mr Biden's ending note in his special contribution to Yonhap news agency ahead of the Nov 3 elections. 

Mr Biden's victory is widely expected to restore balance to the Seoul-Washington alliance, which has been strained in the past few years. 

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The Philippines

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who privately backed Mr Trump, said on Sunday (Nov 8) he was "looking forward to closely working" with President-elect Joseph Biden.

"We look forward to working closely with the new administration of President-elect Biden, anchored on mutual respect, mutual benefit and shared commitment to democracy, freedom and the rule of law," his spokesman, Mr Harry Roque, said in a text message.

"The Philippines and the United States have long-standing bilateral relations, and we are committed to further enhancing the relations with the United States under the Biden administration," said Mr Roque.

Mr Duterte had said he personally would rather see Mr Trump elected to a second term, having been at odds with Democrats in Washington, who criticised his brutal drug war and crackdown on civil liberties.

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Malaysia

Malaysia on Sunday (Nov 8) also congratulated Mr Biden on his historic victory.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said the country has closely followed the electoral process in the US with much anticipation.

"The American voters have decided decisively in endorsing Mr Biden as the 46th President of the United States for his leadership and vision. As a fast growing developing country, Malaysia attaches great importance to its relations with the United States," he said in a statement.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin added that the US-Malaysia Comprehensive Partnership continues to be an overarching framework for proactive, multifaceted and mutually beneficial collaboration between the two nations.

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India 

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated US president-elect Joe Biden and referenced vice-president-elect Kamala Harris’ South Asian roots, noting it was a day of pride for all Indian Americans not just her “chittis” or aunts.

“Congratulations @JoeBiden... on your spectacular victory! As the VP, your contribution to strengthening Indo-US relations was critical and invaluable. I look forward to working closely together once again to take India-US relations to greater heights,” Mr Modi tweeted on Sunday.

Mr Biden, as vice president and as a longtime member, including the chairman, of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has been a strong proponent of closer India-US ties and a key supporter of the India-US civilian nuclear deal, which was finalised in 2006 and helped elevate ties between the two countries. 

There has also been much interest and curiosity in Ms Harris, whose aunt and uncle - Dr Gopalan Balachandran and Dr Sarala Gopalan - live in India. 

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Indonesia

Dr Dinna Prapto Raharja, an associate professor at the Bina Nusantara University in Jakarta, expected that the US would make a return to multilateral diplomatic forums to make a renewed push on global initiatives such as climate change.

This would prompt countries, including Indonesia, to keep to their pledged environmental commitments.

Under the Trump administration, the US ceased all participation in the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change mitigation and was only willing to re-enter negotiations on terms considered fair to the US, its business and its people.

"On the international relations front, Biden differs from Trump in that the former focuses on the multilateral approach. Under Trump, the US has shunned several multilateral diplomacy forums. We expect this to reverse," Dr Dinna told The Straits Times.

In the Nationally Determined Contributions pledged by Indonesia under the UN framework convention on climate change, the South-east Asian nation has reaffirmed its pledge to reduce emissions by 29 per cent independently, or 41 per cent with international assistance, by 2030.

Vietnam 

Relations between Vietnam and the US will broadly remain strong after the transition, predicts Dr Huynh The Du, a public policy lecturer at Fulbright University Vietnam. 

The US Commerce Department on Saturday slapped preliminary countervailing duties of 6.23 per cent to 10.08 per cent on imported light vehicle tires from Vietnam, which maintains a large trade surplus with the US and is accused by Washington of undervaluing its currency. This trade-surplus issue will not go away under the Biden administration, Dr Du said. 

But he expects Mr Biden's approach to be more systematic and consultative than that of Mr Trump, who relied on a small group of advisers. Dr Du expects Mr Biden to continue former president Barack Obama's level of engagement with Asian and Southeast Asian countries.

"Biden is very experienced and he is well known around the world. And 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," he said. 

Thailand 

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha also congratulated Mr Biden and Ms Harris in a statement on Sunday. 

"I wish to extend to you (Joe Biden) and Senator Kamala Harris my warm congratulations on your election victory and the trust that you have earned from American voters," Mr Prayut said. "With the long-standing ties of friendship between our countries dating back more than 200 years, Thailand as the first treaty partner of the United States in Asia takes pride in our strategic partnership which contributes to our mutual benefit and the region’s peace, stability and prosperity."

He added: "I wish you every success and look forward to working closely with you and your Administration to further enhance our cooperation at all levels." 

Political scientist Panitan Wattanayagorn from Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok said Mr Biden's new administration would have to focus on "coming back in real terms to Asia and the Mekong sub-region". 

"The new government must offer a better gesture in concrete terms... in its contribution to the economy of these countries," he said. "If you don't do that in Asean, in the many smaller countries, what will happen, as you already know, is that those countries may not have any choice but to turn to China." 

Amid Chinese assertiveness, American support is also badly needed to support an Asean regional rules-based order, he added. 

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