The smooth transition of power that the world had hoped for from the United States presidential election has not materialised. Republican incumbent Donald Trump, rather than conceding defeat to his Democratic rival Joe Biden, is continuing his still unproven claims of voter fraud and legal challenges of counts and making decisions that create greater confusion. America is the world’s only superpower, so the expected uncertainty in coming months has implications for global stability. For China, the region and world, this is a setback for major challenges, including the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, the possibility of economic recovery and a return to normal trade, supply chains and travel. Each day Trump refuses to accept defeat has an ever-higher cost for people in the US and around the world. The country still has no effective nationwide strategy to deal with the disease, and mixed messages are still being sent on mask-wearing. Political divisions mean that an economic rescue package to stimulate growth and ease unemployment remains far from reach. Fears of a constitutional crisis or civil unrest are causing concern about American stability and that would severely impact the global economy and markets. Of particular concern has been the shake-up in the Pentagon following Trump’s dismissal of defence secretary Mark Esper on Monday. Within hours, three top officials overseeing staff, policy and intelligence had resigned and were replaced by political appointees deeply loyal to the president. Biden projected to win Arizona, cementing US election victory There are fresh worries that the commander-in-chief is planning tough new action against China with the focus being on the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea. Fortunately, amid the uncertainty, regular Chinese and American military exchanges are continuing, with a 16th round of mid-ranking officials under way and discussing cooperation on matters like Covid-19 prevention and control and coordination on storms. Should Trump’s claim that the election has been stolen be rejected by vote counts and legal challenges, he has to hand over power on January 20. That leaves almost 10 weeks during which he can continue to make important decisions that could severely impair Biden’s ability to govern. He could refuse to sign a new stimulus bill, depreciate the US dollar or cancel parts of the debt the US owes to China. That is aside from the US’ serious problems beyond Covid-19; national debt exceeds US$20 trillion, infrastructure is crumbling, inequality rising and racial troubles worsening. With Covid-19 heightening in some parts of the US and Europe, and a widely available vaccine being at least a year off, US political chaos is not what the world needs. It is bound to hinder America’s efforts to mend the damage caused by Trump’s presidency, making revitalising the global economy even more difficult.