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  • Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin speaks during a daily media briefing at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, China, 18 September 2020.

    Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin speaks during a daily media briefing at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, China, 18 September 2020. | Photo: EFE/EPA

Published 9 November 2020
Opinion

Along with Russia and Mexico, China is holding off on sending a message of congratulations to Joe Biden, saying the outcome of the vote has to follow a few steps still. 

China is one of only a small number of high-profile nations, including Russia, Brazil, and Mexico, that have yet to issue statements on the U.S. election. Democratic candidate Biden emerged the winner over Republican incumbent Trump after days of ballot counting. Trump has yet to concede and is challenging counting in several districts.

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China assured that it would respect "international practices" when it decides to react to the elections' outcome. Asked at a press conference, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin responded: "We are aware that Mr. Biden has announced that he is the winner of the election, and we understand that the result of the election will be decided in accordance with U.S. laws and procedures.

"On the question of the (congratulatory) statement by China, we will follow international practices," said the spokesman.

The Foreign Ministry spokesman thus avoided questions from journalists about why China is on the list of countries that have not yet congratulated the Democratic candidate.

China has had a fractious relationship with President Donald Trump, characterized by growing friction over trade, technology, and competition for influence in Asia and the world, with the two powers sparring over issues from blame for the COVID-19 pandemic to Beijing’s human rights record in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

Wang reiterated that Beijing's position on relations with Washington, which deteriorated significantly during Donald Trump's presidency, has always been to call for more dialogue, resolve differences out of mutual respect, increase cooperation and promote the "healthy and stable" development of bilateral ties.

Donald Trump refused to recognize his rival's win, made clear in all the projections made by U.S. media, which historically have been accepted in a country that does not have electoral courts, and he denounced it without providing evidence that there was fraud in favor of the Democrats and promising to go to court for it.

Although China continues to resist making an official assessment of the U.S. elections, Chinese media has shown some optimism about Biden's arrival in power, from which they expect some improvement in the shape of relations, although not so much in the substance of the major political issues that divide Beijing and Washington.

Wang Huiyao, head of the Center for China and Globalization and an adviser to Beijing's government, said he expects more dialogue under a Biden administration. “Biden’s election means an opportunity to re-establish relations with the U.S. as he is more likely to uphold multilateralism. That means China and the U.S. can start discussing issues including climate change, pandemic control, and trade,” Wang said.

Without commenting on an election winner, Wang said Beijing would “always maintain that China and the U.S. should strengthen dialogue and community,” expand cooperation, and “manage and control differences based on mutual respect”.

Wang added: “We hope the new U.S. government can meet China halfway.”

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