Congratulations have been pouring in from around the world for Joe Biden after he claimed victory in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. World leaders will be closely watching how Biden plans to reshape U.S. foreign policy. Many quickly expressed a willingness to work with the President-elect and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris to develop closer ties with the U.S., after four years of President Trump’s “America First” foreign policy approach.
The Associated Press called Pennsylvania for Biden at 11:25 a.m. ET Saturday, taking him to 290 Electoral College votes in the AP count. The announcement came after days of vote counting in several key battleground states.
Trump’s campaign has yet to concede, and since Tuesday’s election day, the President has repeated false claims of voter fraud and filed several lawsuits attempting to halt vote-counting and disqualify ballots.
In his victory speech on Saturday night, Biden referenced the international impact his election would likely have, as he seeks to change course from much of Trump’s foreign policy agenda. “Tonight, the whole world is watching America,” he said. “I believe at our best America is a beacon for the globe.”
Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, told Biden and Harris on Twitter that he looked forward to working with them as they “face the world’s many challenges together.”
Tensions between China and Australia have been rising in recent months over trade. Chinese state-run media recently warned Australia that it would “pay tremendously for its misjudgment” if it continued to support the U.S. government’s efforts to contain China.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed congratulations to the Biden-Harris campaign Saturday. “Canada and the United States enjoy an extraordinary relationship – one that is unique on the world stage,” Trudeau wrote in a statement. “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.”
Trudeau and Trump have clashed over trade and introduced tariffs on goods from each other’s countries. It’s expected that relations may improve with a more ideologically aligned Biden government; Trudeau and Biden also had a positive relationship during Biden’s time as Vice-President in the Obama Administration.
Chinese President Xi Jinping didn’t immediately comment on the news of Biden’s victory (he did, however, issue remarks on Sunday on the construction of a railway in China).
Under Trump’s presidency, relations between the U.S. and China have reached their lowest point in decades, and experts are watching to see if a Biden presidency might cool tensions. Biden has railed against Trump’s trade war, and he could roll back many of the tariffs the Trump administration implemented.
Many internet users also watched the news with interest. The top trending topic on the Chinese microblogging site Weibo on Sunday afternoon in China was Biden’s address to the nation, with around 800 million views.
State mouthpiece the Global Times said in an article published on Sunday that a Biden presidency could “usher in a ‘buffering period’ for already-tense China-US relations, and offer an opportunity for breakthroughs in resuming high-level communication and rebuilding mutual strategic trust between the two countries.”
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen congratulated Biden Saturday, saying that she “look[s] forward to meeting him at the earliest possible opportunity.”
“As the world continues to change, and new challenges and opportunities appear, our renewed partnership will be of particular importance,” von der Leyen said in a statement.
Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama was one of the first foreign leaders to reach out to Biden, sending him a message of congratulations on Friday—before the election had been called in Biden’s favor. Bainimarama’s message focused on the role he hopes the U.S. will have in the fight against climate change. “Together we have a planet to save,” he said on Twitter. “Now, more than ever, we need the USA at the help of these multilateral efforts (and back in the #ParisAgreement — ASAP!). The Pacific Islands are some of the world’s most vulnerable to climate change.
French President Emmanuel Macron congratulated Biden and Harris shortly after the announcement on Saturday. “We have a lot to do to overcome today’s challenges. Let’s work together!” Macron, who had previously criticized a lack of global American leadership under the Trump administration, tweeted.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel congratulated Biden and Harris in a statement released by her office. “I’m looking forward to working with president Biden. Our transatlantic relationship is indispensable if we are to tackle the biggest challenges of our time,” she wrote.
The first woman Chancellor of Germany, Merkel also congratulated Harris on becoming the first woman Vice President.
Merkel and Trump had an especially testy relationship, with the President pressuring Germany to spend more on defense and accusing the country of being “totally controlled by Russia.”
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated both Biden and Harris on Twitter, noting his past relationship with Biden and Harris’ connection to the Indian subcontinent.
Both Harris and Biden have been outspoken about India’s human rights violations under Modi, though Biden has also committed to strengthening ties with India, the world’s largest democracy.
Ireland’s Taoiseach Micheal Martin congratulated Biden and Harris, saying the pair “will make a very formidable team” and that Biden has been “a true friend of this nation throughout his life.”
Referencing Biden’s Irish heritage, Martin said he looked forward to welcoming the president “back home when the circumstances allow.”
Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte congratulated Biden, as well as the American people and institutions “for an outstanding turnout of democratic vitality,” in a year that saw more Americans vote in an election than any other in U.S. history. “The U.S. can count on Italy as a solid ally and strategic partner,” said Conte in a tweet Saturday.
Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga pledged to work with Biden to ensure “peace, freedom and prosperity,” in the Indo-Pacific region. Tensions have heightened in the Asia-Pacific as China has taken an increasingly aggressive stance in the region.
Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (or AMLO, as he is called) held off on sending congratulations to President-elect, saying on Saturday that he can’t congratulate a winner until all legal matters have been resolved.
“With regard to the U.S. election, we are going to wait until all the legal matters have been resolved,” Lopez Obrador said at a televised news conference.
This week the Trump campaign has launched roughly a dozen new lawsuits, most attempting to halt the vote-counting process or disqualify tranches of ballots.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg “warmly welcome[d]” the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in a statement Saturday evening. “A strong NATO is good for North America and good for Europe,” Stoltenberg said, adding that NATO’s collective strength was needed to deal with challenges including a more assertive Russia, international terrorism, and a shift in the global balance of power with the rise of China.
The organization, an alliance of 30 North American and European countries, had a fraught relationship with the Trump Administration. During his presidency, Trump suggested the U.S. withdraw from the organization and criticized other members of the alliance for not boosting their defense spending.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who won re-election in a landslide in October for a second term, offered a message of support and collaboration. “The relationship between our two countries is strong, and I look forward to developing even closer relations with the incoming Biden Administration,” Ardern said in a statement.
“As Vice President, Joe Biden was a close friend of New Zealand and visited here in 2016, the most senior US politician to do so since President Bill Clinton attended APEC in 1999,” she said. She noted the importance of New Zealand working with the U.S. on the prosperity, security and sustainability in the Indo-Pacific and Pacific Island regions, as well on global challenges like COVID-19 and climate change.
Arden also added that “New Zealand has enjoyed positive and cooperative relations with the United States over the period of the Trump Administration, especially in the Indo-Pacific and Pacific Island regions,” Jacinda Ardern said.
In a series of tweets Saturday, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari congratulated Biden on his election “at a time of uncertainty and fear in world affairs.” Buhari’s tweets stressed the importance of democracy, and he urged Biden to introduce greater engagement with Africa, as well as tackle “the negative consequences of nationalist politics on world affairs.”
Buhari was the first leader of a sub-Saharan African country to visit President Trump in the White House in April 2018, and the U.S. president allegedly told aides he never wanted to meet someone so “lifeless” again, according to reports. Buhari has served as President of Nigeria since 2015, and has faced criticism from Nigerians for his failure to fulfil campaign promises of fighting corruption and poverty. Police brutality has also endured during his leadership, which led to a recent wave of protests.
Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan congratulated Biden and Harris on Saturday, saying he looked forward to working with them on some of their specific international policies including supporting worldwide democracy.
The President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, congratulated Biden on Saturday.
“On behalf of the Filipino nation, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte wishes to extend his warm congratulations to former Vice President Joseph ‘Joe’ Biden on his election as the new President of the United States of America,” Duterte said in a statement.
“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,” the statement said.
Duterte had previously said he believes Trump deserved to win re-election.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in sent a message of congratulations on Twitter. “Our alliance is strong and the bond between our two countries is rock-solid,” he said. “I have great expectations of advancing and opening up the future development of our bilateral relations,” he added in another tweet.
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven congratulated Biden and Harris on their win Saturday, saying that he was “looking forward to strengthening excellent US-Swedish relations and to work jointly for multilateralism, democracy and global security.”
Tsai Ing-wen, the President of Taiwan, congratulated Biden and Harris on Twitter. “The values on which we have built our relationship could not be stronger,” she said.
In recent months China has ramped up military drills around Taiwan. The Chinese government considers Taiwan as a breakaway province that must be reunited with China. Tensions between the U.S. and China have increased over Taiwan—high-level Trump Administration officials have visited the island in recent months. In late October, the State Department approved $2.37 billion in potential arms sales to Taiwan, after Beijing threatened to sanction U.S. companies involved in the sale of weapons to Taiwan.
Biden vowed in October to “stand with friends and allies to advance our shared prosperity and values in the Asia-Pacific region … That includes deepening our ties with Taiwan, a leading democracy, major economy, technology powerhouse—and a shining example of how an open society can effectively contain COVID-19.”
Volodomir Zelensky, the President of Ukraine, congratulated Biden and Harris on Saturday. “Ukraine is optimistic about the future of the strategic partnership with the United States,” he wrote. “Ukraine and the U.S. have always collaborated on security, trade, investment, democracy, fight against corruption. Our friendship becomes only stronger!”
Ukraine played an unexpected role in the Presidential election. Trump was impeached in December 2019 on charges that he sought Ukraine’s help in his re-election effort by asking Zelensky to launch an investigation into his opponent, Joe Biden. And during the election, the Trump campaign sought unsuccessfully to find evidence linking Biden’s son, Hunter, to corrupt activities in the country.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson congratulated Biden and Harris in a tweet on Saturday. “The U.S. is our most important ally and I look forward to working closely together on our shared priorities, from climate change to trade and security,” he wrote.
Johnson also congratulated Harris specifically on her “historic achievement.” She will be the first woman to be elected Vice-President, as well as the first Black person and first Asian American to hold that office.
The U.K. is hosting the U.N.’s next major climate conference, COP26, in Glasgow in 2021, which has been flagged by experts as the last real opportunity for successful multilateral climate action.Given Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement, and Biden has pledged to rejoin, Johnson will likely be optimistic that a Biden presidency will increase the chances of decisive action being taken at the event.
–With reporting by Aria Chen.