It was within a few hours of midnight in Asia by the time American media confirmed Joe Biden would be the 46th President of the United States—meaning millions of people across India, Korea, China, Japan, Indonesia, Australia and the Asia-Pacific region at large awoke on Sunday morning to discover that a new leader of the free world had been elected overnight.
Many Americans reacted to the news in fairly predictable ways: taking to the streets, dancing under fireworks and generally celebrating the end of Donald Trump’s reign. But such a momentous occasion also sent shockwaves right around the world, rippling throughout the Asia-Pacific and eliciting reactions from people in every corner of the region.
Local residents wearing masks of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris wave as they ride on a trishaw along a street in Solo, central Java on November 8, 2020 to celebrate their victory in the 2020 US presidential election. Anwar Mustafa / AFP
Chinese citizens applauded Biden’s "well-deserved victory" and mocked Trump’s spectacular defeat; locals in Indonesia rode rickshaws through the street sporting facemasks of the new President- and Vice President-elect; and people in Thulasendrapuram village, Kamala Harris’ ancestral home, let off celebratory fireworks.
A man (R) from the native village of US Democratic Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris' uncle (L), Balachandran Gopalan, offers him sweets for Kamala Harris victory, at his home in New Delhi on November 8, 2020. Prakash SINGH / AFP
Some 1,200 miles away, at his home in New Delhi, Harris' uncle Balachandran Gopalan was offered sweets by locals in celebration of his niece’s victory. Japanese investors and traders cheered as the country’s stock exchange boosted to a 29-year-high. And all around the region, people breathed a collective sigh of relief that after four tumultuous years Trump is finally set to leave the White House.
A staff member points to a computer monitor as a screen (top L) displays the Japanese yen's exchange rate against the US dollar, and another screen (top R) showing a programme featuring US presidential election candidates Joe Biden and Donald Trump, at a foreign exchange trading company in Tokyo on November 9, 2020. Philip FONG / AFP
Biden is just the fifth candidate to defeat an incumbent U.S. president in the past century. He has won the most votes in American history, topping his 2008 running mate, President Obama. Harris, meanwhile, will be the first person of South Asian descent, the first woman, and the first woman of colour to hold the office of vice president in the U.S.
A painter gives the final touches to a painting depicting newly elected US President Joe Biden, in Amritsar on November 8, 2020. NARINDER NANU / AFP
People read an extra edition of a newspaper reporting on US Democratic president elect Joe Biden's win in the US presidential election, in Tokyo on November 8, 2020. JIJI Press / AFP
Sand sculpture of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris is seen after their majority winning as President and Vice president of USA as it is creating by sand artist Sudarshan Pattnaik for visitors awareness at Bay of Bengal Sea's Puri beach, 65 km away from the eastern Indian state Odisha's capital city Bhubaneswar on November 8, 2020. (Photo by STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Residents hold placards with the portrait of US Democratic Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, as they celebrate her victory in the US election, at her ancestral village of Thulasendrapuram in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu on November 8, 2020. STR / AFP
A painter holds a painting depicting newly elected US President Joe Biden, in Mumbai on November 8, 2020. INDRANIL MUKHERJEE / AFP