What does the world expect from Joe Biden?

Art by Annie Gugliotta

In the weeks leading up to the US presidential election, we spoke to journalists and commentators from around the world about how the result might affect their countries. Then, in the days after Joe Biden's victory became clear, we went back to some of them to see what they now expect from the next American administration. Here's what we heard from Brazil, China, Ethiopia, India, Iran, Israel, Japan, Mexico, and the Philippines.


BRAZIL: Bolsonaro is alone now

Guga Chacra, Globo News

[Brazilian President Jair] Bolsonaro isn't just a leader who wants to have good relations with Trump, like Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu. He wants to replicate Trump in Brazil. The American president is his idol, his model, his inspiration. Without Trump, Bolsonaro won't have his narrative that there is a right wing alliance between him and Trump against "the communists and globalists." That is why it will be so hard for him to accept Trump's defeat. Also, he sees Biden as a leftist. It will not be easy for him to develop good relations with him. Bolsonaro is ideological, not pragmatic.

CHINA: Conflict and cooperation, at once

Wang Xiangwei, South China Morning Post

There is a growing cautious optimism in China that a Biden presidency is more likely to put a floor under the current near free-fall in relations. Having said that, Chinese officials believe that Biden will continue a hardened China policy even though his approach will be different from Trump's erratic and unpredictable style.

I believe that US-China relations could head for a new normal, characterized by intensifying confrontation and competition on issues like technology, human rights and international norms but increased cooperation on global issues including climate change and future pandemics.

ETHIOPIA: Now we have a partner again

Samuel Getachew, The Reporter

The United States remains an important nation. Despite its shortcomings, its voice is still valued and needed in the world. From democracy to human rights and trade, most people in the world see its importance. It was disheartening when it started becoming more protectionist, less of a partner in the world in the last four years. I see the vote for a Biden presidency as an endorsement of that traditional role and a rejection of what Trump was and represented. Ethiopians do feel there is now a partner and a mediator to the many challenges of not just Ethiopia but of a troubled region.

INDIA: Hoping for "American friends first"

Pramit Pal Chaudhuri, The Hindustan Times

India expects Washington's tone to soften on trade and immigration, but the trajectory of US policies not to change. The hope is the US will be less "America First" and more "American and friends first" as it continues to retreat from the idea of a world without economic barriers.

India believes Biden will soft-pedal the military element of the response to China, preferring to focus on trade and technology. New Delhi believes this is an error but believes China's own actions will force Biden to change track eventually.

The most important policy difference with Biden will be climate. Prime Minister Narendra Modi sees climate change as an existential threat to India. The Biden team has already been reaching out to fast-track cooperation in this area.

IRAN: Time is running out ahead of June election

Negar Mortazevi, Washington DC-based journalist covering Iran and the Middle East

Many Iranians are optimistic about the end of the Trump era. They want better political and economic relations with the West and prefer to de-escalate tensions with the US so that crippling sanctions are lifted. Sanctions have had a tremendous impact on the lives of ordinary Iranians, middle and working classes.

Iranian officials are urging Joe Biden to return to the nuclear deal and it is important for him to ensure a clean and mutual return to the JCPOA [the 2015 Iran nuclear deal] before we hit Iran's presidential election in June, and a change of power in Tehran.

Iranian officials have also started talking about a form of guarantee from the US to ensure that if the Biden administration returns to the deal, the next admin will not be able to leave again. This is arguably how many countries view agreements with the US now.

ISRAEL: Did Netanyahu lose his Trump card?

Neri Zilber, Tel Aviv-based journalist/commentator

The Israeli public clearly favored Trump, but the immediate post-election reaction has been more confusion than shock — watching on, like the rest of the world, at the slow, dysfunctional pace of American democracy.

The Israeli government is expecting less support from a Biden administration relative to the unconditional favoritism of Trump the past four years. However, bilateral ties, including military, will remain strong — which would be in line with Biden's own decades-long support for Israel and traditionalist foreign policy.

The more prosaic analysis is that Biden will be too consumed by domestic troubles to care much about Israel and the Middle East. The more severe analysis is that, with Trump gone, Netanyahu has lost his closest foreign ally and most important domestic political card.

JAPAN: A welcome return of predictability

Junko Tanaka, former Washington DC bureau chief for NHK

Japan would welcome the predictability, and the respect for liberal international order and alliance mechanism under President-elect Biden. And with regards to China, we have yet to see if Japan would gain from Biden's more nuanced policy or not. Japan expects the US to check China's rise without destabilizing the region. However, we don't want the US to become too soft on China. Hopefully, the Biden administration will listen to allies in the region and pursue a balanced policy towards China.

PHILIPPINES: Deja vu for Filipinos!

Camille Elemia, Rappler

[Philippine President Rodrigo] Duterte has less than two years in power, and he's pretty preoccupied with a lot of things. I think he's still trying to weigh things now — especially on how Biden will deal with China and with Xi Jinping, who is an ally of Duterte's. But as long as Biden doesn't publicly attack Duterte and his human rights record, there's a chance they'll be off to a good or civil start.

The way Trump reacted to the election, by the way, is highly typical of a Filipino politician in fact Filipinos online were comparing Trump to Ferdinand Marcos Jr. They have the same strategy. It's like déjà vu for Filipinos. Here in the Philippines, nobody loses, everybody gets cheated.

MEXICO: A gradual process of normalization

Carlos Bravo Regidor, political analyst and professor in Mexico City

For Mexico, a Biden presidency could mean a gradual process of normalization, after the turbulences brought about by the Trump administration to the bilateral relationship. Yet, it will also mean a new set of challenges. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) and Biden have very different ideas and policies on issues such as energy, security, environment, labor, or investor rights. Biden might be a more orthodox American president, but AMLO will still be a rather unorthodox counterpart.

[On AMLO's refusal to recognize Biden's win]: The Mexican government's response to what is happening in the US isn't a defense of the vote, it's flirting with a coup attempt. This posture advances no foreign policy principle or notion of the national interest — Mexico has nothing to gain if Trump wrecks the orderly transfer of power. Quite the opposite.

An abstract image of a brain with high tech neural connections. Get the latest from Microsoft on the most pressing policy issues.

Visit Microsoft On the Issues for a front-row seat to see how Microsoft is thinking about the future of sustainability, accessibility, cybersecurity and more. Check back regularly to watch videos, and read blogs and feature stories to see how Microsoft is approaching the issues that matter most. For the latest, visit Microsoft On the Issues.

U.S. President Joe Biden is seen in a White House handout photo as he speaks with European leaders about Russia and the situation in Ukraine during a secure video teleconference from the Situation Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., January 24, 2022.

Western powers claim that they present a united front against the Kremlin’s current threats in Ukraine. But clearly there are reasons for doubt. President Joe Biden provided more last week when he appeared to question whether NATO would in fact act with “total unity” if Vladimir Putin orders Russian troops across the Ukrainian border.

Do Western allies really agree on a common approach to keeping Russia out of Ukraine? What are the major points of contention among them?

More Show less
Beating China at AI | GZERO World

The US and China compete on many fronts, and one of them is artificial intelligence.

But China has a different set of values, which former Google CEO Eric Schmidt is not a big fan of — especially when those values shape the AI on apps his children use.

"You may not care where your kids are, and TikTok may know where your teenagers are, and that may not bother you," he says. "But you certainly don't want them to be affected by algorithms that are inspired by the Chinese and not by Western values."

More Show less
Russia & China vs “the West”

Russian President Vladimir Putin attempts to shake hands with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping during a meeting in Moscow, Russia, June 5, 2019.

REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina

Russia and China have always had a complicated relationship. They almost went to war over a border dispute in 1969, and have historically regarded each other as neither friends nor enemies, but rather competitors for influence in Asia and elsewhere.

But that all started to change in 2014, the year Moscow and Beijing saw a US hand in the revolutions that prompted Russia to seize Crimea from Ukraine, and China to crack down on umbrella-wearing protesters in Hong Kong. China is increasingly thirsty for Russian oil and natural gas, and both have a common interest in standing up to “the West.”

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping are now showing off their authoritarian bromance in the face of growing animosity from the US and its allies over flashpoints such as Ukraine and Taiwan.

We know how much of the West views Russia and China. But how do Russia and China view the West? Here's a hypothetical recent catch-up video call between BFFs Putin and Xi.

More Show less
The Graphic Truth: Coups ain’t what they used to be
Gabriella Turrisi & Paige Fusco

Rebel soldiers have ousted Burkina Faso's democratic government in the first military coup of 2022. Last year, soldiers also seized power in Myanmar, Mali, Guinea and Sudan. But attempts around the globe in recent decades have become both less common and less successful. That's partly because the end of the Cold War diminished outside superpowers' interest in backing coups against governments they didn't like. Here's a look at the historical record.

What We’re Watching: Burkina Faso coup, China’s “pure” internet, Thailand decriminalizes weed

Captain Sidsore Kader Ouedraogo, centre, spokesman for the military government, with uniformed soldiers from the Patriotic Movement for Safeguard and Restoration or MPSR, announces on a television studio that they have taken power in Burkina Faso.

Radio Television du Burkina (RTB)/Handout via EYEPRESS

Another coup in volatile West Africa. Monday’s military coup in Burkina Faso is the fourth armed takeover of a West African government in just 17 months. As in neighboring countries like Mali — which has had not one but two coups since 2020 — it will be hard for outsiders, like the African Union and the regional group ECOWAS to reverse this assault on an elected government. Why? For one thing, al-Qaeda and Islamic State-affiliated militant groups are winning battles with soldiers and killing civilians in barely governed parts of Burkina Faso. For another, more than 1.5 million of the country’s 21 million people have been forced from their homes since 2018. Street protests in major cities and mutinies in military bases have made clear in recent months just how unsustainable Burkina Faso’s security situation has become. Events in Mali, Niger, and Guinea have followed a worryingly similar pattern, and the Ivory Coast and Benin also face growing jihadist threats. We’ll be watching to see whether Burkina Faso’s junta has more success than the government it ousted in beating back jihadist attacks and restoring security to the country — and what happens if it doesn’t.

China's internet "purification" campaign. Xi Jinping doesn't like big celebrities — other than his famous singer wife — because they often show off their expensive lifestyles online, encouraging Chinese youth to worship money instead of the ruling Communist Party. That's why ahead of next week's Lunar New Year, the government plans to take down celebrity fan groups and censor influencers whom Xi regards as "unpatriotic." What's more, minors will no longer be allowed to become online influencers. The campaign is part of Xi's broader "common prosperity" vision to combat rising wealth inequality in China, which has prompted a surge of charitable giving by tycoons, especially tech billionaires. It has also canceled celebrities who flaunted their wealth or embarrassed the CCP by doing things like visiting a Tokyo shrine that holds the remains of World War II criminals, acquiring foreign citizenship, or using a surrogate to have a baby born in the US. Keep all of this in mind if you're an aspiring influencer in China.

Thai stoners rejoice. On Tuesday, Thailand became the first Asian country to decriminalize cannabis by dropping it from its list of banned substances. This is a very big deal for a country known for some of the world’s toughest anti-drug laws, including the death penalty for anyone caught with even small amounts of certain narcotics. Still, a tangle of laws related to cannabis leaves unclear whether recreational use and possession will be prosecuted. For now, the percentage of THC — the psychoactive compound in cannabis that makes you high — must be under 0.2 percent. In recent years, Thailand has relaxed its policy on so-called soft drugs, first legalizing medical marijuana and later kratom, a popular plant-based mild stimulant and painkiller. But the country still has a big problem with addiction to hard drugs — especially yaba (crazy pill), a highly addictive combination of methamphetamine and caffeine sourced from the lawless border areas of neighboring Myanmar.
Hard Numbers: Oz buys Aboriginal flag, Malawi vs corruption, ISIS human shields, Boris the party animal

Children hold an indigenous flag at a Black Deaths in Custody Rally at Town Hall in Sydney, Saturday, April 10, 2021.

AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

14: The Australian government paid $14 million for the copyright of the Aboriginal flag so that anyone can display it without fear of being sued. Indigenous artist Harold Thomas created the flag 50 years ago as a protest image; since then, it has become the dominant Aboriginal symbol and an official national flag.

More Show less
Russia's Actions Towards Ukraine Are Strengthening NATO | World In :60 | GZERO Media

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week on Russian escalation of Ukraine strengthening NATO, omicron and the end of COVID-19, and on the most recent military coup in West Africa — Burkina Faso:

How will Russian escalation of Ukraine strengthen NATO?

Well, NATO over the last 10, 20 years even was increasingly beset by problems. You had the US unilateralism focused more on Asia. You had the old mission of defending against the Russians less relevant. The French wanting strategic autonomy. Macron leaning into that. Now, of course, Merkel's gone, too. But the proximate reality in danger of the Russians invading Ukraine, actually, as much as the Europeans are more dependent on the Russians for their economy and their gas, they're also more concerned about Russia in terms of national security. That has driven a lot of coordination, including announcements of a lot more troops and material from being sent by NATO states to Ukraine and also to defend NATO borders, like in the Baltic states as well as Bulgaria and Romania. I would argue that what Putin's been doing so far has had no impact greater than bolstering NATO, and it's one of the reasons why I'm skeptical that a full-on invasion is something that Putin has in the cards because that would frankly do more than anything else out there to make NATO, focused on Russia, a serious and going concern.

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

Beating China at AI

GZERO World Clips

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal