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New Cold War, or new frontlines?

Ng Qi Siang
Ng Qi Siang 12/24/2020 07:00 AM GMT+08  • 20 min read
New Cold War, or new frontlines?
Will President-elect Biden repair all the damage to US-China ties he will inherit from Trump? Not quite.
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After a roller-coaster election ride, it appears almost certain that former US vice-president Joe Biden will be the newest resident of the White House. Despite threats from losing Republican incumbent Donald Trump to contest the results, Biden’s formal election in the electoral college has almost certainly put paid to any lingering hopes of a second Trump term.

Global reaction has been mixed. Many world leaders were quick to send the presumptive President-elect their congratulations, implying acceptance of the election results as they now stand. On the other hand, some of Trump’s strongman buddies, such as Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, waited to the last possible moment before congratulating Biden. Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, another of Trump’s buddies, has even threatened to defend Amazon deforestation with “gunpowder” should an environmentally-friendly Biden White House take him to task.

China did things at its own, measured pace. On Nov 13, a week after Biden’s win was called, a spokesperson congratulated him at a daily routine briefing from China’s Foreign Ministry. Subsequently, Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory message to Biden on Nov 25, while Vice-President Wang Qishan congratulated his running mate Kamala Harris on the same day. When Trump won in 2016, President Xi offered congratulations the day after.

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