China has offered its congratulations to United States President-elect Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris on their election success, almost a week after they delivered victory addresses.
Speaking at a regular press briefing Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said that China “respected the choice of the American people.”
“We congratulate Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris. At the same time, we understand that the outcome of this US election will be ascertained in accordance with US laws and procedures,” he said.
It comes four days after Wang sidestepped questions from CNN on when China would congratulate the US President-elect on his win, leaving many to speculate whether officials were waiting for Donald Trump to formally concede.
At the time, Wang said that they had “noted” Biden’s declaration of victory. “We will handle the issue of the statement (of congratulations) in accordance with international practice,” Wang said on Monday.
China is one of the last major nations to offer its congratulations to President-elect Biden and his team on their win. A large number of countries have already welcomed the new US leader, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Israel, France and Germany.
In 2016, Chinese President Xi Jinping offered his congratulations to then-President-elect Trump just one day after he had been declared the winner.
Chinese state-run media has so far been cautious in its handling of Biden’s win in comparison to its increasingly strident tone towards the Trump administration, amid an ongoing deterioration in bilateral relations.
While some outlets have published profiles of Biden or highlighted a popular Beijing restaurant he visited in 2011, most Chinese media has focused their post-US election coverage on alleged fraud and ensuing turmoil.
Experts have suggested that Beijing might have been reluctant to do anything that risked antagonizing the outgoing US administration in its final months in power.
In an editorial on Thursday, state-run newspaper China Daily said that the “eagerness of foreign leaders” to congratulate Biden showed they wanted to “turn their backs on the current administration and its divisive policies.”
“China is always ready to work with the US to manage their differences. Whoever is in the White House should look at the regional situation objectively,” the editorial said.
An article in state-run tabloid Global Times described Biden as an “old friend” of China’s. An editorial in the paper published Sunday after Biden’s win said that while the paper hoped for better relations between Washington and Beijing under Biden, at the end of the day China could only trust itself.
“China must become a country the US cannot suppress or destabilize, and make it that cooperation with China is the best option for the US to realize its national interests. This is the ultimate principle,” the editorial said.