World hopes for an end to American isolationism as Biden nears victory


Here are the latest developments:

  • Newspapers across the globe declared an almost-certain Biden victory, declining to wait for most major U.S. media outlets to call it.
  • Most world leaders say they will work with whoever wins the White House, though most stopped short of offering congratulations before the count is settled.
  • President Trump continued to make unsubstantiated allegations of electoral fraud, retweeting misleading claims about the integrity of the vote count.
  • Trump’s far-right allies, notably Brexit party leader Nigel Farage, encouraged him to keep up the fight and railed against mail-in ballots.
  • The prime minister of Fiji was among the first leaders to publicly congratulate Biden, saying he hoped for greater U.S. action on climate change.

With Joe Biden in the driver’s seat to win the presidency, countries around the world looked ahead to what a Democratic administration would mean for them. Many hope the period of American isolationism under President Trump will give way to an era of renewed U.S. global leadership and embrace of multilateralism to tackle common challenges.

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison, when asked Saturday about the relationship with a future Biden administration, said the Australia-U. S. alliance is “bigger than any one individual.” Morrison, a conservative, said he would wait for the vote count to be over and then get on with working with Washington. Morrison and Trump have long been close. In 2019, Trump asked the Australian leader to help him amid the Mueller investigation.

Frank Bainimarama, the prime minister of Fiji, was among the first to congratulate Biden outright, saying in a tweet that they must work together to confront a warming planet and rebuild the global economy.

“Now, more than ever, we need the USA at the helm of these multilateral efforts (and back in the #ParisAgreement — ASAP!),” he wrote.

As the Democratic candidate extended his vote lead in key battleground states, newspapers around the world began analyzing the policy implications under a Biden administration. Others continued to focus on the battered image of American democracy — sometimes with open glee.

The Times of India, which effectively declared Biden the winner with the headline “Bye Don, It’s Biden Finally,” said that H1-B work visas — allowing nonimmigrants to work in the United States — are unlikely to return in their previous scale or numbers, even if the Biden administration has a more favorable immigration policy. But it noted that the Democrats could be stronger on human rights violations in India. The newspaper also described celebrations in Sen. Kamala D. Harris’ ancestral village in southern India — the birthplace of her maternal grandfather — where residents were feeling festive ahead of the traditional Diwali celebrations.

In China, relations with the United States have plummeted to their lowest ebb in 40 years amid bitter disputes over trade, technology, human rights and the coronavirus pandemic. But hopes have been stirred that, despite fundamental differences, a Biden win might act as a circuit-breaker and offer a window for cooperation in certain areas.

From Beijing’s perspective, “a Biden presidency is more likely to put a floor under the current free-fall in relations, judging by his recent remarks on China and those of his foreign policy advisers,” wrote Wang Xiangwei, a columnist and editorial adviser at the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post. Chinese officials, he said, are hoping for at least a short-term respite to the vitriol that has dominated Sino-U. S. relations under Trump.

Still, an op-ed in the nationalistic Global Times tabloid noted deep partisan divisions in the United States that it said would not be easily eased.

“The U.S. will remain united from outside but divided from within, no matter who is president,” wrote Zhang Jiadong, a professor at the Center for American Studies at Fudan University.

Iranian officials have largely avoided commenting on the election impasse and its possible implications for U.S. policies, such as the future of economic sanctions and the fate of the 2015 nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama-Biden administration. Trump withdrew from the pact two years ago and has stepped up sanctions on Tehran.

“For us, the individual and the party are not important; rather, what matters is the policies to be adopted by the U.S. government,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Saturday. Rouhani has urged the U.S. to return to its commitments under the nuclear deal, known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and rejected Trump’ calls to renegotiate it.

The Chairman of Tehran’s City Council, Mohsen Hashemi Rafsanjani, on Saturday congratulated the family of Qasem Soleimani, the former commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force, who was killed in a U.S. military drone strike in January near Baghdad. Rafsanjani said the targeted killing helped cause “Trump’s heavy defeat,” BBC Persian reported.

Iranians, battered by an economic crisis alongside the coronavirus, have been following the election with intense scrutiny. Aftab-e Yazd, an Iranian reformist newspaper, declared on its Saturday front page: “A world without Trump.”

Jabs and jeers at Trump

With Trump still seemingly determined to contest the election results in court, some expressed fears for what he might unleash, even if he eventually concedes.

“The squatter” was the title of the Saturday cover of Der Spiegel, a leading German news magazine. A defiant, fatigue-clad Trump is depicted holding a rifle, barricaded in the Oval Office with a bullet-holed picture of a smiling Biden in the backdrop.

In Britain, the left-leaning Guardian newspaper declared Trump in a “fight against reality,” but noted in an editorial that Biden would have his work cut out to “rebuild the U.S. government’s credibility after Trumpism hollowed out its institutions.”

“He will have to reassert America’s role as the global problem-solver,” it said. “Under Mr. Trump the ‘indispensable nation’ disappeared when it was needed the most.”

Others mocked Trump’s efforts to remain in power. “One small hand clinging to everything except reality,” read the front page of the Saturday Paper in Australia.

The Japanese government, meanwhile, warned its nationals in the United States that they may become caught up in election-related violence, and told people to take precautions, including “considering whether it is appropriate to travel to work while protests continue,” according to the Mainichi newspaper.

The Trump brand continued to find support among those on the far right who support Trump’s nativist-driven populism. Nigel Farage, who leads the U.K.’s Brexit party, wrote in an opinion piece that he believed Trump is right to “keep up the fight,” and repeated the president’s untruths that widespread postal voting is problematic and open to fraud.

In Japan, a burger outlet near a U.S. naval base followed a long tradition of naming a burger after every sitting American president by adding the Biden Burger to its menu. The owner began serving the Trump burger four years ago and wanted to be ready for the impending result as the vote count nears a conclusion, according to public broadcaster NHK.

The Biden Burger pays homage to his Scranton, Pa., roots. It comes with Philadelphia-style cheese and potato chips to represent Pennsylvania, a major chip producer. The Trump Burger has a dash of jalapeño, “supposedly reflecting Trump’s sharp tongue,” NHK wrote.

David Crawshaw in Hong Kong contributed to this report.

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