US election

China, Russia hold off on responses to election result

A screen shows a news report of US President-elect Joe Biden delivering a speech, in a restaurant in Beijing on Nov 8, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING, MOSCOW • China, which has held off on congratulating US presidential election winner Joe Biden even as leaders of other countries have done so, said yesterday it would follow custom in responding to the result.

Mr Biden, a Democrat, clinched enough states to win the presidency but incumbent President Donald Trump has not conceded and is making legal challenges to the outcome of the Nov 3 election.

"We noticed that Mr Biden has declared election victory," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a daily media briefing. "We understand that the US presidential election result will be determined following US law and procedures."

In 2016, Chinese President Xi Jinping sent congratulations to Mr Trump on Nov 9, a day after the election.

Relations between China and the United States are at their worst in decades over disputes ranging from technology and trade to Hong Kong and the coronavirus, and the Trump administration has unleashed a barrage of sanctions against Beijing.

While Mr Biden is expected to maintain a tough stance on China - he has called Mr Xi a "thug" and vowed to lead a campaign to "pressure, isolate and punish China" - he is likely to take a more measured and multilateral approach.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin in Russia also said yesterday it would wait for the official results of the election before commenting on its outcome, and that it noted incumbent Mr Trump's legal challenges related to the vote. Russian President Vladimir Putin has remained silent on the issue since Mr Biden clinched the presidency last Saturday, four days after the election.

Speaking to reporters on a conference call, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow deemed that it was better to wait for the official results before commenting. He added that Mr Putin had repeatedly said he was ready to work with any US leader and that Russia hoped it could establish dialogue with the new US administration and find a way to normalise relations.

Moscow's ties with Washington sank to post-Cold War lows in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine. Mr Biden was serving as vice-president under President Barack Obama at the time.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2020, with the headline China, Russia hold off on responses to election result. Subscribe