Trump’s Defeat Serves as a Lesson to Autocrats Everywhere, Including in China

Trump’s Defeat Serves as a Lesson to Autocrats Everywhere, Including in China
A giant TV screen shows an image of President Donald Trump during a newscast about the U.S. presidential election, at a shopping mall in Beijing, Nov. 8, 2020 (AP photo by Andy Wong).

It didn’t require an acute sense of hearing to register the sighs of relief from many quarters around the world when Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump was called by leading American news networks Saturday. From the mayor of Paris, the message was an exuberant “Welcome back America!”⎯and that spirit of encouragement was matched in places as far flung as Canada, South Korea and Ethiopia, even if the language was slightly more restrained.

In certain other quarters, just as predictably, mum was the word. Vladimir Putin, who rushed to congratulate Trump four years ago, passed the first few days after the Biden breakthrough in silence, under the pretense that nothing about the American outcome has become official yet. Other regimes that had become invested in Trump’s leadership, from Brasilia to Riyadh to Pyongyang, were similarly mute.

Given its rising power, the most interesting case—and arguably most important to the future—is that of Beijing. China, of course, has been as quiet as Russia at the official level about Biden’s election. But for months, Chinese society has been unusually wrapped up in American presidential politics, which is all the more remarkable given the impossibility Chinese citizens face in choosing their own leaders, or even speaking up openly about them.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review