China congratulated Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on winning the United States presidential election, ending days of speculation about when Beijing would formally acknowledge the victory, Bloomberg reports.
“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 briefing in Beijing on Friday.
“We respect the American people’s choice and extend congratulations to Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris,” Wenbin added.
China’s acknowledgement came after multiple television networks projected Biden would defeat Donald Trump in Arizona, one of the battleground states where the president has looked to overturn the election.
Major world leaders had congratulated Biden and Harris for defeating the Republican candidate but China was one of the few countries including Russia and Mexico that had so far withheld comment, as Trump contested the results.
“We understand that the result of the US presidential election will be determined following the US laws and procedures,” Wenbin noted.
US-China ties have grown increasingly strained in recent years under the Trump administration and relations are as icy as at any time since formal ties were established four decades ago.
Trump’s four years in the White House have been marked by a costly trade war between the two powers, with Beijing and Washington also sparring over blame for the Covid-19 pandemic and China’s human rights record in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.
It was reported that the Trump government threatened to leave the World Trade Organisation. It also blocked the organisation’s dispute settlement appeal system since last December, insisting that China must move up from the developing economies category.
The US-China trade war started in 2018 when Trump began setting tariffs and other trade barriers on China with the goal of forcing it to make changes to what the US described as “unfair trade practices”.
The trade war has negatively affected both economies and has paralysed some vital activities within the WTO.
Analysts have also opined that the decision of who becomes the next director-general of the world trade body largely rests on the outcome of the US election. The WTO selection committee had postponed the final selection process just before the election. It had adopted Nigeria’s Former Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, as consensus candidate but the Trump government opposed the move.
Under his “America First” banner, Trump has portrayed China as the greatest threat to the United States and global democracy.