China on Friday shed its initial hesitation and congratulated US President-elect Joe Biden and his deputy Kamala Harris for their victory in the 2020 US presidential election, saying Beijing respects the choice of the American people.
“We have been following reactions on the US elections from both within the US and the international community,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing here when pointed out that more world leaders as well as United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres have congratulated 77-year-old Biden.
“We respect the American people’s choice and we extend congratulations to Biden and Harris and we understand that the result of the US presidential elections will be determined following the US laws and procedures,” Wang said.
China initially hesitated to congratulate Biden, a Democrat, after Republican incumbent President Donald Trump refused to concede. On November 9, Wang had declined to congratulate Biden on his victory, saying the outcome of the American election should be determined by the country’s laws and procedures.
Trump’s four years in power were the worst phase in China-US relations as the ruling Communist Party of China headed by President Xi struggled to deal with what China’s officials say is the most elusive and unpredictable American leader ever since the former US President Richard Nixon in 1972 established ties with the Communist nation.
During his tenure, Trump pushed aggressively on all aspects of US-China ties, including with his relentless trade war, challenging China’s military hold on the disputed South China Sea, its constant threats to Taiwan and branding coronavirus as “China virus” after it emerged from Wuhan in December last year.
Chinese strategic experts said Biden entering the White House is expected to provide an opportunity for breakthroughs in resuming high-level communication and rebuilding mutual strategic trust between the two major countries.
However, the pending change in US leadership will not change the overall direction of Washington’s China policy.
Regardless of who resides in the White House, the US will to some extent maintain its current approach toward China, experts say.