China follows international conventions to engage with incoming US administration

By Xu Keyue Source: Global Times Published: 2020/11/10 0:08:40

Biden tastes some Chinese tea with his granddaughter Finnegan at a teahouse in Beijing on December 5, 2013. Photo: CFP

While some world leaders rush to congratulate Democrat Joe Biden on his victory in the presidential election, China is sticking to its long-standing tradition of reaching out to the incoming administration and may wait until the election result is confirmed, in a move, experts say, out of respect for international norms and the US.

But communications via non-official channels may take place and some project teams such as the trade negotiation team may make early contact with the new US administration after the election result is confirmed. Such a prudent and rational move from China not only aims to stay out of the controversy of the US election but also shows China respects the US and its new administration, experts said. 

China's cautionary attitude was palpable during a press conference of the foreign ministry on Monday. Asked why China has not commented on the US election and whether it was because of the uncertainty surrounding the results, Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for the ministry, said that China has taken notice that Biden has claimed victory and China understands that the results of the US elections will be determined according to US laws and procedures.

As to when China will send a congratulatory message, Wang said that China will "follow international customary practices."

In the last US presidential election, China's top leaders sent a congratulatory message to Donald Trump on his election as US president, a day after Trump won the election and Hillary Clinton accepted the result on November 9, 2016.

Following the message from top leaders, communications between department agencies, including the Chinese embassy to the US, and their US counterparts would start, according to experts.

Chinese experts said China should start exchanges with the next president's team after the official result of the US president election is announced to avoid getting caught in the controversy and it is also a way to show China's respect for the US and the incoming administration.

China should not hurry to state a stance over Biden's announced presidential election victory as it needs to stay out of the controversy of the election and has no need to flatter Biden's team, Shen Yi, professor at the School of International Relations and Public Affairs of Fudan University, told the Global Times on Monday.

Although there were still a few US states that have not completed their vote counts, Biden has already been declared the winner by a number of major US media outlets. Biden delivered a "victory speech" to the nation on Saturday night US time, and several world leaders have also congratulated him.

Diao Daming, an associate professor at the Renmin University of China in Beijing, also told the Global Times on Monday that although Biden had declared his victory in the election, Donald Trump has refused to concede defeat and has repeatedly refused to commit to a peaceful transition of power, so uncertainty over the result exists.

Diao also noted that it's totally not necessary for China to have exchanges with Biden's team during the power transition period through such personal channel, especially after some US media outlets hyped up what he called "unreliable" information about Biden's son's business in China.

Shen warned Chinese people not to vainly hope Biden's team would take conducive measures to improve China-US relations in a short period if he becomes president. China should be alert to intensified tensions between China and the US if Biden takes office, he noted.

Also, during the period of power transition, if the Trump administration takes provocative measures targeting China - which is not highly possible - China should make stern and reciprocal response, Diao said.

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