World Leaders Welcome Biden Win as They Seek Reset in U.S. Ties
World Leaders Welcome Biden Win, Seek Reset in Ties With America
(Bloomberg) -- World leaders welcomed Joe Biden’s election win with many hoping the Democratic U.S. president-elect will spur a reset in ties, bringing a renewed focus on global issues like climate change and a more collaborative response to the coronavirus pandemic.
In his four years as president, Donald Trump upended decades of accepted American foreign policy. He criticized longstanding allies in Europe, withdrew from international agreements and organizations, and set aside human rights concerns to cultivate ties with more authoritarian leaders in Saudi Arabia, Hungary and Turkey.
Biden has promised a more multilateral approach. Even so, he’s expected to continue a tougher line on trade and will need to balance public sentiment at home, which is for America to stop shouldering so much of the burden for global defense.
Here’s a roundup of the key reactions around the world:
Chancellor Angela Merkel said she looked forward to working with Biden. “Our transatlantic friendship is indispensable if we are to face the greatest challenges of our time,” she said in a statement posted on Twitter by her spokesman.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called for a fresh start for transatlantic ties -- what he called a “New Deal.”
“Joe Biden made clear during the campaign that he sees the global strength of the U.S. in team play and not going it alone. We also want the west to play as a team again,” Maas said in a statement. “Only that way can we make our common values felt in the world, only then can we have the necessary clout.”
China is likely to face a stronger stance from the U.S. under Biden on human rights issues and for its crackdown on Hong Kong. But state media focused mostly on Trump, rather than Biden. Trump has made repeated references to voter fraud, without providing significant evidence, and has said he plans to fight on via the courts.
Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the state-run Global Times, said Trump’s actions could continue to reverberate, including for ties with China. Biden won’t be sworn in until late January.
“Given his unique personality, and mobilization capability that other defeated candidates don’t have, if he rejects this result and sticks to this attitude to the end, it will have far-reaching impact,” Hu said on Twitter. In a separate post on Weibo, Hu said China “needs to get in touch with Biden’s team to explore the possibility of getting rid of extreme turbulence in the China-U.S. relationship.”
President Tsai Ing-wen said she looked forward to further “friendship” with the U.S. “The values on which we have built our relationship could not be stronger,” she said in a tweet. Beijing considers the democratically-run island part of its territory.
While Tsai’s party has more in common with Biden on environmental and social issues, he has for decades advocated for “strategic ambiguity” on Taiwan, seeking to minimize the risk of a direct conflict with China. Under Trump, the U.S. approved billions of dollars in armed sales to Taiwan.
There’s been no official reaction from President Vladimir Putin. His spokesman didn’t respond to a request for comment. Four years ago, Putin sent Trump his congratulations within hours of U.S. television networks calling the result.
Opposition leader Alexey Navalny, who is in Germany recovering from a near-fatal poisoning attack, did weigh in:
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who developed a rapport with Trump, called the U.S. “our closest and most important ally,” a situation he said would not change under a Biden presidency. He cited climate change, trade and international security as key priorities. The U.K. will need a trade deal with the U.S. as it exits European Union arrangements under Brexit.
“I think that there is far more that unites the government of this country and government in Washington any time, any stage, than divides us,” Johnson told the Associated Press.
Iran and the Middle East
President Hassan Rouhani called on Biden to make amends with the Islamic Republic after the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” policy.
“An opportunity for the future government of the U.S. has arisen for it to compensate for its past mistakes and to return to respecting global norms and the path of commitment to its international obligations,” Rouhani said, according to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency.
The Trump administration withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 Iran nuclear accord and imposed sweeping sanctions to try to force Tehran to accept a tougher deal that also limits its missile program and ambitions in the Middle East. Biden has indicated he may seek to rejoin the pact.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who arguably was one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Trump administration’s foreign policy, took longer than some of his Middle Eastern counterparts in congratulating Biden. He first tweeted he was looking forward to working with Biden and Harris, before thanking Trump in a separate post for his friendship.
Trump repeatedly broke with U.S. precedent to boost Netanyahu’s nationalist agenda, recognizing Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights and moving the American embassy to Jerusalem.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed, issued a brief statement of congratulations on Sunday night via the official Saudi Press Agency. The king noted close historical ties between the countries and wished Americans “further progress and prosperity,” SPA said.
There was no comment so far from Turkey. Both Ankara and Riyadh had cozy ties with Trump and may face greater scrutiny under a Biden administration, including by Congress.
The president of Iraq, Emir of Qatar and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed all sent well wishes to Biden.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fatty El-Sisi, the first foreign leader to call and congratulate Trump in 2016, said he was “looking forward to working and cooperating with the new president-elect.” Egypt will likely face more of the traditional American scolding over human rights once Biden takes office.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who had an at-times prickly relationship with Trump, including on trade, spoke of the “extraordinary relationship” between the countries in his statement congratulating Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
“We will further build on this foundation as we continue to keep our people safe and healthy from the impacts of the global Covid-19 pandemic, and work to advance peace and inclusion, economic prosperity, and climate action around the world,” he said.
Mexican leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who struck up a close relationship with Trump, held off his congratulatory message, saying the process is not over and votes are still being counted. “We don’t want to be imprudent,” he said at a briefing.
President Emmanuel Macron called on the incoming American administration to “work together” with France. “We have a lot to do to overcome today’s challenges,” he said on Twitter.
Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called Biden a “strong supporter” of the defense grouping, which found itself under fire from Trump for insufficient contributions from member states aside from America.
“A strong NATO is good for North America and good for Europe,” he said in a statement. “We need this collective strength to deal with the many challenges we face, including a more assertive Russia, international terrorism, cyber and missile threats, and a shift in the global balance of power with the rise of China.”
Commission chief Ursula Von Der Leyen said a renewed partnership was of particular importance given current global issues including the Covid-19 pandemic.
India and Asia
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi focused on Harris as a source of pride for Indian-Americans, calling the incoming vice president “pathbreaking.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke of “shared values” in the U.S.-Australia alliance as he congratulated Biden and Harris. The U.S. has sought to enlist countries in Asia to counter China’s military and economic clout. Australia has found itself increasingly in China’s cross-hairs also on trade.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga spoke of strengthening the U.S.-Japan alliance under Biden; Trump had periodically mused about forcing Japan to pay more for the American troops housed on its soil.
©2020 Bloomberg L.P.