As many world leaders rushed to send President-elect Joe Biden congratulations on his projected US election victory over Donald Trump, others were notable in their silence on Sunday.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he would not congratulate Biden on his victory until all legal challenges are resolved.
Lopez Obrador said during a press conference he would refrain until “all legal issues [related to the election] are resolved. We don’t want to be reckless”.
The Mexican president added that his country had a good relationship with both Biden and President Trump, as he praised the sitting leader for being “very respectful of us”.
While outspoken disappointment was scarce, several prominent leaders who have maintained warm relations with Trump’s administration also kept silent on Biden’s win.
Noticeably absent from well-wishing were Russia’s Vladimir Putin, China Xi Jinping, and President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil.
‘Lesson for Bolsonaro’
True to the confrontational style he and Trump share, Bolsonaro also clashed with Biden during the presidential race.
When Biden said during his first debate with Trump that the US needed to push Brazil to better protect the Amazon rainforest, Bolsonaro called the statement “disastrous”.
“What a shame, Mr John Biden!” he said, mistaking the former vice president’s first name in the English version of his tweet.
Brazil’s leading media outlets reported Trump’s defeat in the context of its own populist leader, who has similarly sought to diminish democratic institutions and reject science-based facts.
“Trump’s defeat punishes the attacks against civilisation, it is a lesson for Bolsonaro,” wrote Folha de Sao Paulo, one of Brazil’s main daily newspapers.
“May Brazil’s leaders seize the spirit of the times – or die, like Trump, who has already left it too late.”
Trump has shown no signs of willingness to concede and has made repeated unfounded allegations of significant voting irregularities, some of which have already been rejected by courts and election officials.
The Republican president promised to keep up legal battles and launch new ones on Monday. It remains to be seen if any of his efforts will succeed, but it is doubtful he will be able to overturn a growing consensus around the election result.
There also was no immediate reaction from Russia’s Putin, who was friendly with Trump. But other leaders who supported Trump – including Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, India’s Narendra Modi and President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines – congratulated Biden, indicating they rejected Trump’s claim that the election was not over.
China’s rocky relationship with the Trump administration could continue under the president-elect. Biden has at times gone even further than the outgoing president in attacking China.
He has referred to Xi as a “thug” and sworn to lead an international campaign to “pressure, isolate and punish China”.
His campaign has also labelled China’s actions against Muslims in Xinjiang “genocide” – a step further than current policy, with significant implications if that designation is formalised.
“The United States does need to get tough with China,” Biden said in an article published in March as the coronavirus pandemic, which was first recorded in the Chinese city of Wuhan, took hold.
“The most effective way to meet that challenge is to build a united front of US allies and partners to confront China’s abusive behaviours and human rights violations.”
In the same sentence, Biden also wrote of seeking “to cooperate with Beijing on issues where our interests converge, such as climate change, non-proliferation and global health security”.