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What U.S. allies and adversaries in Asia make of Biden and Harris – CBS News

Beijing — U.S. allies and competitors across Asia have joined the chorus of official government reactions to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s projected election victory. The reactions ranged from government caution in China, calculated reminders of friendships and alliances from Taiwan, South Korea and Japan, and national pride in India linked to Harris’ half-South Asian heritage.

China

China’s official reaction has been most notable for who has not congratulated Mr. Biden and Harris: Neither President Xi Jinping or China’s ambassador to the U.S., Cui Tiankai, have weighed in.

“We have noticed that Mr. Biden declared he is the winner of the election,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said in a notably reserved statement at a regular daily press briefing in Beijing. “Our understanding is that the outcome of the election will be determined in accordance with U.S. laws and procedures.”


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President Trump hasn’t conceded his loss to Joe Biden, despite trailing in both the popular and electoral college votes. Beijing implied it would deal similarly with whichever party occupies the White House from January 20.

“Our resolve to protect the country’s sovereignty, security and development benefits will not waver,” said Wang. “We hope the new U.S. government can meet China halfway.”

But the less official voices of Beijing were less circumspect. State media and state-controlled social media were more critical of U.S. democracy — and President Trump, suggesting he had done lasting damage to U.S.-Chinese ties.

“The U.S. political system is in degradation, which has caused strong repercussions in Western public opinion,” wrote Hu Xijin, Editor-in-chief of the populist, patriotic tabloid Global Times, in a Monday op-ed. “Trump has changed the U.S.  Even after he’s gone, the political legacy he leaves behind will be difficult to eliminate.”

The front page of the Southern Weekly newspaper shows a picture of U.S. President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden at a news stand in Beijing
The front page of the Southern Weekly newspaper shows a picture of U.S. President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden at a news stand in Beijing, China, November 9, 2020.

THOMAS PETER/REUTERS


For its 1.4 billion citizens, Beijing has spun the U.S.’ initial post-election uncertainty amid slow vote-counting into a narrative that bolsters the government’s position: that China’s Communist Party is far more organized and less divisive than the U.S.’ democratic process.

“Haha,” tweeted the official account of the state-run People’s Daily. China’s largest newspaper group broke from posting official news articles over the weekend to reply to Donald Trump’s own tweet, claiming he had won the U.S. election. The paper’s four-letter post, which immediately went viral, also featured a laughing-crying emoji. Half a day later the paper had deleted the post, but only after it was liked and retweeted thousands of times.  

“In a nutshell, the last four years were not ideal years,” said Henry Wang, President of the Beijing-based Center for China and Globalization, the country’s largest independent think-tank. He said Mr. Trump’s term was characterized by a “lot of misunderstanding… lot of mistrust… even though President Trump called President Xi ‘a great friend.'”

Wang, however, told CBS News that, despite the tension, the two nations “really cannot separate from each other… We cannot really fight each other. The world needs some coordination… leadership and… collaboration.”

North and South Korea

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in first congratulated the election’s projected winners in a weekend tweet, saying the U.S.-South Korea “alliance is strong and the bond between our two countries is rock-solid.” 

On Monday, Moon stressed his hope for an orderly transition at the White House, specifically to ensure that North Korea is not given any kind of opportunity to exploit.

“We will see to it that there will be no pause in the strengthening of the ROK (Republic of Korea)-U.S. alliance and the advancement of the peace process on the Korean Peninsula. We will do our best to ensure that the invaluable achievements accomplished to date between us and President Trump’s administration will extend seamlessly into the incoming U.S. Administration and progress further.”

The U.S. has about 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea, ready to deal with any potential regional security issues, in particular involving North Korea or China. 

North Korea had not weighed in as of Monday. Some analysts believe the Kim Jong Un regime might have preferred a win by President Trump. The current president’s made-for-television dalliances with Kim at bilateral summits in Singapore and Vietnam were publicity coups for the isolated dictator, but there has been little to show for them.

Biden has called Kim a “thug,” while Pyongyang has dubbed Mr. Biden a “fool of low IQ.”

Taiwan

Taiwan’s president Tsai Ying-wen congratulated Mr. Biden by replying to a tweet he posted in January, praising her own re-election in a landslide vote.

“Now it is my turn to extend congratulations to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris,” replied Tsai, Taiwan’s first female president. “The values on which we have built our relationship could not be stronger.” 

By responding to Mr. Biden’s own tweet, rather than just starting a new post, Tsai was reminding the president-elect — and the world — of his words: “The United States should continue strengthening our ties with Taiwan and other like-minded democracies.” 

It was a politically savvy move, prompting the incoming administration to remember Taiwan, where many were hoping Mr. Trump would be re-elected. Democratically-governed Taiwan is an island off China’s coast, roughly half the size of the state of South Carolina and with a population of about 23 million people.

Beijing considers Taiwan a renegade province. China’s president has vowed to unify Taiwan with his country, by force if necessary. 

Mr. Trump’s regular bashing of China — from the coronavirus to trade —  and the White House’s support of more arms sales to Taiwan, have made him a valuable ally in the face of a rising China.

Mr. Trump’s regular bashing of China over everything from the coronavirus to trade, and the fact that his administration has pushed to sell more weapons to Taiwan, has made him a valuable ally. 

India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent tweets separately to Mr. Biden and Harris to congratulate them.

Because of her half-Indian heritage, Modi called Harris’ ascent “pathbreaking.” The tiny ancestral village of Harris’ maternal grandfather — Thulasendrapuram, in south India — had been praying for her win and, when the projections of the Biden-Harris victory came in, its several hundred residents set off fireworks and prayed at its Hindu temple.

Harris’ success puts India on the map of U.S. politics in a way it never has been. Modi will likely seek to leverage this as a bulwark against China’s territorial claims along the two enormous Asian nations’ shared, and heavily militarized, border in the Himalayas.

Skirmishes flared over the summer that left more than 20 Indian soldiers, and possibly Chinese troops, dead.


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But India’s government may feel pressure from Washington as well, particularly over a controversial new citizenship law ushered in by Modi’s Hindu nationalist government, seen as anti-Muslim, and over New Delhi’s crackdown on residents in the majority-Muslim Kashmir region.

Japan

Japan’s recently-installed prime minister Yoshihide Suga also tweeted “warm congratulations” to Mr. Biden and Harris, and was one of Asia’s first leaders to do so. 

“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,” said Suga.

The prime minister’s quick move came as no surprise, as Japan has stood as a political, military and economic bastion in Asia against China as the strongest country-level ally of the U.S. in the region. The bilateral relationship has endured for decades, regardless of who occupies the White House.

On Monday, Suga continued his praise.

“Japan and the U.S. are allies that share universal values such as liberty and democracy,” Suga said. “We’d like to work together with the U.S. to further strengthen the alliance and secure peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.”


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Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who recently stepped down for health reasons, managed his relationship with Mr. Trump well. He came to be seen as one Mr. Trump’s closest friends among world leaders.

Abe flew to New York to meet then-President-elect Trump even while President Obama was still in office. Local reports suggest a Biden White House could usher a return to more typical relations, with little expectation that Suga would visit Washington until next year.

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