On Friday, China became one of the last major countries to congratulate U.S. President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris.
According to The Washington Post, this ends “whispers over Beijing’s reticence.”
Beijing’s greetings came over 24 hours after Biden’s team said he had held phone calls with Australia, Japan, and South Korea, which The Washington Post explains as “U.S. allies that have watched with varying degrees of concern as Beijing has expanded its regional influence.”
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“We respect the American people’s choice,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin. “We congratulate Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris.”
“We understand the U.S. election results will be confirmed based on U.S. law and procedure,” Wang then added.
China Stalled To Congratulate Biden
Previously, China’s Foreign Ministry held off extending their salutations as it only “noted” Biden’s claim of victory. According to Chinese foreign policy analysts, the stance was a precautionary one as President Trump has not conceded.
Steve Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute in London, “said he believed the delay in China’s response probably reflected the government’s rigid decision-making process,” The Washington Post reported.
“More likely, no one in the Chinese government dared to make a call on this until they have heard from [Chinese leader] Xi Jinping on how Xi would like to play it,” he said. “Xi took time to think about it and finally decided to reach out to Biden, after allowing the confusion in Washington to be known to the Chinese.”
“Perhaps they have decided waiting much longer will antagonize Biden, so they have to get off the fence. And they want to start engaging with Team Biden,” said Bill Bishop, publisher of the Sinocism newsletter.
Bishop also explained that Beijing was cautious of congratulating Biden too early to avoid issues with U.S.-China relations before Trump conceded.