Monday, November 29, 2021

India Mourns, Pakistan Celebrates & China Refuses To Acknowledge The Fall Of Donald Trump

After a long and hard Presidential race, the people of the US have finally chosen Joe Biden as their next President. As Americans took to the streets to celebrate Biden’s victory, leaders from all around the world sent their wishes to the new President-elect. 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to congratulate Biden on his victory expressing how his contribution to strengthening Indo-US relations as the Vice President was “critical and invaluable”. “I look forward to working closely together once again to take India-US relations to greater heights.”

The last four years saw a close relationship between the Indian Prime Minister and US President Donald Trump. In February, Modi welcomed Trump and his family at an event held in Ahmedabad, Gujrat, called ‘Namaste Trump’. Last year in September, ‘Howdy Modi’ program was held in Houston, Texas, where Modi cheered for Trump’s Presidential victory in the 2020 elections, with the slogan “Abki Baar, Trump Sarkar”. 

Now, with a new President in the White House, analysts have been trying to foresee what Biden’s win means for India and the South Asian region.

Apart from the close friendship between the leaders of the two nations, Trump’s strict counter on China got immense support from the Indians. 

As India and China are engaged in a border standoff, the Trump administration has not shied away from blaming China for unrest in the region and even for the COVID-19 pandemic.

While there’s no official statement from the Chinese officials or President Xi Jinping on Biden’s win, Chinese State media had a cautionary reaction.

Donald Trump President - Free image on Pixabay

While the Trump administration has damaged the ties between the two nations, “Beijing should undertake to communicate with the Biden team as thoroughly as it can,” wrote Global Times in an editorial titled ‘Drop illusions over China-US relations, but don’t give up efforts.’

China simply refused to congratulate Joe Biden for winning the presidential election, saying the outcome still needs to be decided.  After several world leaders hailed Biden’s victory, China said that the fate of the US election would be decided by its “laws and procedures”.

It further said that Biden is highly likely to continue Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign. It criticized Trump calling his moves on China as “reckless gambling-style moves.” 

In the latest development, Beijing has moved to expedite work on a railway project connecting the country’s southwest Sichuan province to Linzhi in Tibet.

The railway line lies close to the border of the Indian state, Arunachal Pradesh, that China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian called “China’s south Tibet region”. “China had never recognized so-called ‘Arunachal Pradesh’,” he had said.

Jinping has reportedly directed to build the USD 47.8 billion railway project as it will play a crucial role in safeguarding stability on the border.

“Over the last five years, a critical problem was that the US State Department did not have the standard competence to carry out its functions,” stated Hamsini Hariharan, a Research Associate with The Geostrategy Program at The Takshashila Institution writing for CNBC.

“But we do not know that Biden will take a markedly different approach to China. Even if Trump is ousted from the White House, it is clear that a massive faction of the American population retains a Trumpian outlook, which will continue to influence policy.”

While analysts believe that there won’t be much that Biden can do to mend the US-China relationship, he may take a softer approach than Trump.

India’s long-standing adversary, Pakistan, is expecting a renewed relationship with the US. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan congratulating Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris said that he expects to continue the work for peace in Afghanistan.

Earlier, Foreign Office Spokesperson Zahid Chaudhri told reporters in Karachi: “Pakistan looks forward to working with anyone who wins”. In 2008, Biden was conferred with the second-highest civilian honor, ‘Hilal-e-Pakistan’ by Islamabad.

However, former President Barack Obama, under whom most wanted terrorist Osama Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan by the American forces, refused to visit Islamabad during his tenure owing to “complicated” reasons.

Under Trump’s administration, US officials were openly critical of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). “The lack of transparency can increase CPEC costs and foster corruption, resulting in an even heavier debt burden for Pakistan,” Alice Wells, then U.S. assistant secretary of state for South Asia said during a Wilson Center event in Washington.

Analysts believe that Biden may move away from this approach and rekindle moderate diplomacy with Pakistan. “I could envision a Biden administration supporting efforts led by the US private sector to offer assistance on clean energy projects associated with CPEC,” Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia Program at the Wilson Center told Nikkei Aisa.

While Washington had a tough stance on Pakistan and China, it was peacefully cooperating with them in Kabul where the peace treaty was signed. The US has welcomed Pakistan’s support in bringing peace to the war-torn nation of Afghanistan as Trump had promised to bring back American soldiers from the region. 

Neither Trump nor Biden spoke of the Afghanistan treaty during Presidential debates, which makes it harder to predict Biden’s approach on the matter as the President now. However, Biden has favored the withdrawal of American soldiers from Afghanistan, keeping only a few of them for counter-terrorism operations

“If Trump remains in office, we will see a continuation of the current policy. But even if Biden gets elected we won’t see a collapse of the process like it happened in the Iranian case,” Amina Khan, Middle East, and Africa director at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) think-tank told TRT World.

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