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Joe Biden reaches out to allies in the Asia-Pacific

November 12, 2020

In phone calls with the leaders of South Korea, Japan and Australia, Biden has discussed the challenges key allies face. But the main power in region, China, continues to refrain from congratulating the president-elect.

Joe Biden
Image: Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo/picture alliance

US President-elect Joe Biden reaffirmed his country’s commitment to key US allies in the Asia-Pacific on Thursday. 

In separate calls with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Japan’s Yoshihide Suga and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Biden discussed the importance of bilateral relations in tackling key global challenges like the coronavirus pandemic and climate change.

Biden and Moon reaffirmed their "firm commitment to a robust ROK-US alliance and peaceful and prosperous Korean Peninsula."

During his conversation with Japanese Prime Minister Suga, Biden highlighted the need to work together in order to achieve "a free and open Indo-Pacific," possibly an indication that the Biden administration will move to control China's growing military and economic overtures in the region.

Australia's Scott Morrison took to Twitter to say, "There are no greater friends and no greater allies than Australia and the US."

India’s overtures

Despite his close relationship with President Donald Trump, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi became one of the first international leaders to congratulate Biden on his victory on Sunday, hours after it became clear that the Democratic candidate had the electoral college seats to win the presidential election.

"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," Modi said on Twitter.

He also congratulated Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, highlighting her Indian roots. Harris, the first female vice president-elect of the US, is of Indian and Jamaican descent.

China’s reluctance

Even as US allies in Asia reached out to the president-elect, China has said it would withhold comment on the US election results until all legalities have been formalized. 

"We noticed that Mr. Biden has declared election victory," China's foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing. "We understand that the US presidential election result will be determined following US law and procedures."

China joins a short list of nations, including Russia, Brazil and Mexico, that have been a bit more cautious by holding off their congratulations for the moment.

see/rt (Reuters, AP)