CHINA / DIPLOMACY
Biden’s victory confirmed, but Trump’s influence to remain: experts
Trump’s political influence remains on Twitter, TV: experts
Published: Dec 15, 2020 09:53 PM
 

US President-elect Joe Biden (right) arrives with wife Jill Biden to speak on the Electoral College certification at Queen Theatre in Wilmington, Delaware on Monday. Photo: AFP

US President-elect Joe Biden clinched his victory over incumbent US President Donald Trump after being officially confirmed by the Electoral College on Monday, and analysts said Trump could become the first, probably not the last, defeated presidential candidate who refuses to concede, and this would be another damage that Trump brings to US democracy.

After he leaves the White House, Trump can still remain relevant on TV and social media, but if establishment elites take their revenge by launching lawsuits on his problems on tax fraud or other issues, he might face penalty including imprisonment, said some experts.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at Tuesday's routine press conference that China has noticed the result and Chinese President Xi Jinping already sent his congratulations on November 25.

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin finally sent his congratulations to Biden. "I am ready to cooperate and maintain contact with you," Putin said in his message to Biden, according to TASS. Biden said in an interview during the election with US media that Russia is "the biggest threat" to US national security.

Since Biden has been congratulated by all major powers, the result of the election has been acknowledged internationally. But Trump is still very active on Twitter, repeatedly claiming fraud and cheating by Biden.

Biden surpassed the 270 electoral votes needed to win after California, which has 55 Electoral College votes, the most of any state, put Biden over the top on Monday evening.

Electors in key battleground states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia and Arizona, where Trump had hotly contested but failed, voted with no surprises or defections.

Supporters of US President Donald Trump wave a Betsy Ross flag with a circle of 13 five-point stars representing the 13 original colonies during a protest in Washington DC on Saturday. Photo: AFP



 First in history?

Citing a source close to the White House, CNN said that Trump is not going to publicly accept his failure, but has privately acknowledged that he won't be staying at the White House for the next four years after efforts to overturn the election results in court failed. 

AP reported that Trump has shown no sign of conceding. For many pundits, it's very likely that Trump will not.

"Trump could be the first US president not to publicly acknowledge defeat," Wang Yiwei, director of the Institute of International Affairs at Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Tuesday, noting that Trump will "probably not be the last." 

Lü Xiang, a research fellow on US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) in Beijing, said that whether Trump will concede eventually or not, he can make no meaningful change to the result, and "he can believe and keep saying there is fraud in the election the rest of his life, but he must move out from the White House in January."

On January 6, Electoral votes will formally be counted before a joint session of Congress, according to the website of the US Congress. Members of Congress may object to any state's vote count, provided it is presented in writing and is signed by at least one member of each House of Congress. 

The approval of both houses of Congress is then required to toss out a state's electoral votes. Once the counting is completed, the President of the Senate as well as the vice president of the US, Mike Pence, will formally announce the electoral results.

"If Trump wants to make more trouble, he can force Pence not to cooperate, but it would be very unlikely as this won't bring any difference to the final result, and Pence won't stay that close to Trump to offend Congress," Lü said.

"The Democrat-controlled House will apparently not overturn Biden's victory by rejecting the Electoral College's result… and there are also many Republicans in the GOP-controlled Senate who won't challenge Biden's victory," said Diao Daming, an associate professor at the Renmin University of China in Beijing. 

If Trump does not concede after January 6, he will definitely become the first American president not to concede publicly, Diao said.

"Trump made his fame as a businessman, and is the first US president with no previous experience serving in the military or public office, so he has no awe or respect when facing politics," Zhang Guoqing, a research fellow at the Institute of American Studies of CASS, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

Some analysts said that by campaigning for Trump, the Republicans are using Trump to undermine the legitimacy of Biden's victory. 

The Electoral College system may not be able to adapt to today's America, which has been polarized by the left and right, Wang said.

Trump Photo: VCG


Remain influential

"Trump can maintain his political influence after he leaves the White House… He has 88.6 million followers on Twitter and more than 70 million votes, which is a good basis for him to run in 2024," said Diao. 

With a large number of supporters, Trump is likely to be encouraged to fight on and prepare for the 2024 election as soon as he leaves the White House, via Twitter, TV shows, rallies, fundraising and more, Zhang said, suggesting that Trump is going to make speeches and write an autobiography like Barack Obama.   

It remains to be seen how effective Biden will be in containing Trump on account of power abuse, tax evasion, and national security in order to govern smoothly, but it is essentially a game between the industrial capital behind Trump and Silicon Valley and Wall Street capital behind Biden, said an analyst. 

"The lawsuits launched by states like New York are very likely. The Democrats and establishment elites will seek their revenge, but Trump might ask Republicans to protect him or make some compromises, as he still has influence. But those who don't want to see him in the 2024 election will try their best to crack down on him," Lü said.

Although Trump is going to leave the White House after he severely damaged China-US ties, he has also provided much entertaining content and memes to web users in China who are interested in international news. 

Many web users said on Chinese social media that they will "miss Trump" as he is to leave very soon, and some even thanked Trump for abandoning multilateralism, damaging US national strength and US-led international alliances, to let China take some unexpected advantages in the competition. 

Trump's Chinese nick names like "Chuan Jianguo," meaning "Trump builds China" in Chinese, and "Dong Wang," which means a man self-claimed as a king who "knows everything," will always be remembered, and some web users joked to suggest Trump come to China if he encounters trouble in the US after leaving the White House.  


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