China joins nations congratulating Joe Biden on Nov 3 US election win

A barber watches a video next to a screen showing Mr Joe Biden delivering a speech after he was projected to win the US presidential election, in Beijing, on Nov 8, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE) - China congratulated Mr Joe Biden and Ms Kamala Harris on winning the Nov 3 US presidential election, ending days of speculation about when Beijing would formally acknowledge the victory.

"We have been following the reaction on this US presidential election from both within the United States and from the international community," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a regular news briefing in Beijing on Friday (Nov 13).

"We respect the American people's choice and extend congratulations to Mr Biden and Ms Harris."

China's acknowledgement came as US networks said Mr Biden, who leads by more than five million in the popular vote, cemented his victory late Thursday on by winning Arizona, one of the battleground states where the President had looked to to overturn the election.

China was previously among a handful of major countries including Russia and Mexico that had not congratulated the president-elect, with Beijing simply commenting earlier this week that it had "noticed Mr Biden declared he is the winner", as Mr Trump contested the results.

"We understand that the result of the US presidential election will be determined following the US laws and procedures," Mr Wang said.

Beijing's official reaction to Mr Biden's victory had been relatively muted.

President Xi Jinping has not offered public congratulations, while the Foreign Ministry this week gave largely vague answers at a briefing on Monday, saying that it hoped the new administration would "work in the same direction as us going forward".

President Trump has repeatedly claimed that the election has been hindered by fraud, and on Thursday retweeted a baseless claim that an election equipment maker "deleted" 2.7 million votes for him nationwide.

US election officials said there is no evidence of compromised ballots or corrupt voting systems in the US election.


Mr Trump's four years in the White House have been marked by soaring tensions as he portrayed China as the greatest threat to the United States and global democracy, and the two sides sparred over topics from the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic to technology, and China's human rights record.

The two clashed in a bruising trade war over US demands, including greater access to China's markets, broad reform of a business playing field that heavily favours Chinese firms, and a loosening of heavy state control by Beijing.

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In January, a deal was signed between the two - bringing a partial truce that obliged Beijing to import an additional US$200 billion (S$270 billion) in American products over two years, ranging from cars to machinery and oil to farm products.

Mr Trump has also turned its gun on Chinese tech firms which it says poses security threats, including video-sharing app TikTok - owned by Chinese parent company Bytedance - and mobile giant Huawei.

But, it is far from certain that relations will improve under a Biden administration, with the Democrat outspoken during his campaign on China's dismal human rights record.

During a Democratic Party primary debate in February, Mr Biden called Chinese President Xi a "thug". His presidential campaign has also referred to the crackdown on the Muslim Uighur minority in China's Xinjiang region as a "genocide" - a campaign Beijing defends as vocational training to counter the threat of terrorism.

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