Here are a few key points from Biden’s maiden speech — and how global leaders might respond.
Biden proclaimed a new chapter was beginning after the decision to end two decades of war in Afghanistan.
“As we close this period of relentless war, we’re opening a new era of relentless diplomacy, of using the power of our development aid to invest in new ways of lifting people up around the world,” the President said.
But many nations have also questioned the largely unilateral decision by the Biden administration to pull out of Afghanistan by the end of August after 20 years of war, one that led to a chaotic withdrawal and a rapid, humiliating takeover of the country by the Taliban.
“Freedom does not fit in the backpacks of soldiers coming from outside the region,” he said.
On fears of a new Cold War
“We’re not seeking — say it again — we are not seeking a new Cold War or a world divided into rigid blocks,” Biden said, adding that the US is “ready to work with any nation that steps up and pursues peaceful resolution to shared challenges, even if we have intense disagreement in other areas, because we’ll all suffer the consequences of our failure.”
In a pre-recorded speech broadcast after Biden’s, Chinese President Xi Jinping underscored China’s commitment to multilateralism, although Beijing’s critics will note that its policies toward the South China Sea and Taiwan, for example, paint a different picture.
Biden said the US will “stand up for our allies and our friends and oppose attempts by stronger countries to dominate weaker ones,” citing attempts to change territory by force, economic coercion and disinformation as examples of malign activity the US would oppose.
He said the US is turning its focus to the Indo-Pacific region and is “fixing our eyes on devoting our resources to the challenges that hold the keys to our collective future.”
“One country’s success does not have to mean another country’s failure, and the world is big enough to accommodate common development and progress of all countries,” said Xi.
On the climate crisis
He announced an effort to mobilize $100 billion to support climate action in developing nations and called on world leaders to “bring their highest-possible ambitions to the table,” when they convene at a climate summit in Scotland later this year.
That vow marks a shift in policy around Beijing’s sprawling Belt and Road infrastructure initiative, which had already begun to draw down its coal initiatives. China will also increase financial support for green and low-carbon energy projects in other developing countries, Xi said.
However non-governmental organizations say that figure contradicts data and aerial images of the region that show deforestation is on the rise, consumed by fire, scars from mining activities within protected areas, illegal landing strips, large plots of land being prepared for planting, and cattle grazing alongside recent fires.
On vaccine inequality
Biden lauded the US’ vaccine sharing efforts, saying they’d provided a “little dose of hope” in communities around the world.
The US has contributed more than $15 billion toward global Covid-19 response, shipping “more than 160 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine to other countries,” he said.
Still, vaccine inequality continues to be fueled by the actions — or inactions — of the world’s richest nations. Last week, the World Health Organization said that more than 5.7 billion vaccine doses have been administered globally, with 73% of those doses administered in just 10 countries.
Biden’s comments followed a scathing indictment on vaccine inequality from the UN Secretary-General, who pointed out that more than 90% of Africans are still waiting for a first dose while many in rich nations are already fully vaccinated.
“This is a moral indictment of the state of our world. It is an obscenity,” Guterres said.
Biden said he’ll be announcing additional commitments to fight the virus at a US-hosted global Covid-19 summit on Wednesday.
CNN’s Caitlin Hu, Karol Suarez, Elizabeth Joseph and Hira Humayun contributed reporting.