China’s congratulations to Biden, Harris ‘show respect to US people, law’

By Yang Sheng and Liu Xin Source: Global Times Published: 2020/11/13 18:47:21 Last Updated: 2020/11/13 18:56:15

National leaders’ message will be sent ‘once the US election concludes with a final result’

File photo: Xinhua

The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Friday extended the country's congratulations to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and said China respects the choice of the Americans, in a move which Chinese analysts said shows China's utmost respect to US laws, election rules, all parties and voters, while congratulations from the top national leaders of China will be sent once official results are released.  

Wang Wenbin, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said that we have been watching the domestic and international reaction to the US presidential election, and we respect the choice of the Americans. 

"We extend congratulations to Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris, and we also understand that the US election result will be decided in accordance with US laws and procedures," Wang said at Friday's media briefing. 

The remarks have drawn the attention of US mainstream media, with the Washington Post writing the headline, "China finally congratulates Joe Biden, Kamala Harris on election victory." But Chinese experts said the congratulations are not on behalf of the national leaders of China to the president-elect of the US. 

Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Friday that "by calling Biden 'Mr.' rather than 'president-elect,' the remarks showed that China is still being cautious. On the one hand, China acknowledged that Biden and Harris have taken a clear advantage in the election; on the other hand, China also showed respect to President Trump and his voters, who are still challenging the result with lawsuits and other measures."

In the past, China's top leaders' congratulations were sent once a candidate conceded. But Trump refuses to accept the result. According to the Xinhua News Agency, on November 9, 2016, Chinese President Xi Jinping congratulated Donald Trump as the president-elect, a day afte Trump declared his victory and Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton delivered a concession speech.

Unless Trump accepts the results or the electoral college votes in December, or if Congress makes the final call in January in case disputes remain, the top leaders of China will unlikely extend formal congratulations to the president-elect, said Lü Xiang, a research fellow on US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing.

"That's why Wang has to stress that China 'understands that the US election result will be decided in accordance with US laws and procedures' after he congratulates Biden and Harris," Lü told the Global Times on Friday.

US president-elect Joe Biden. Photo: VCG

Wang's remarks came after several world leaders and representatives of international organizations, including UN Secretary-General António Guterres, have congratulated Biden, who was declared the winner of the recent election.

Li said this also shows that China, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, respects the views of the UN Secretary-General and the United Nations.

"US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is still provoking China, but China is cautiously handling its ties with the next administration, so we hope Trump can understand China's sincerity and not make any further trouble for China-US ties," Li noted.

China's congratulations to Biden came after Pompeo denied Taiwan island was part of China.  Friday's comments by the Chinese Foreign Ministry may hint that China also wants to send a signal to Biden that bilateral ties should not be damaged by irresponsible individuals like Pompeo, said Xin Qiang, deputy director of the Center for US Studies at Fudan University.

Chinese experts said that the more provocations that the Trump administration makes, the more connections and recognitions from China will be extended to Biden's team, as this could minimize the damage that the Trump administration would bring to China-US relations, and also distance the crazy remarks made by officials like Pompeo from the official US stance.

Most world leaders or governments of major powers have congratulated Biden, with Russia and Brazil still waiting for the final result.

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