• By The Financial District


Former South China Morning Post (SCMP) editor Wang Xiangwei notes that China’s belated congratulations to Joe Biden for drubbing US President Donald Trump is a sign that Beijing seeks to have warmer ties with the Democratic president-elect and hopes to craft more manageable economic ties with the US.

In an essay for SCMP, Wang noted the The Chinese leadership is seemingly looking to avoid the risk of antagonizing the president-elect, with whom they need to work to reduce bilateral tension. “We respect the American people’s choice,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a news briefing. “We congratulate Mr Biden and Ms Harris.” The foreign ministry previously merely noted Biden’s announcement that he had won, with Chinese state media addressing him as the US presidential candidate rather than using the title of president-elect.

“Beijing had apparently intended to wait for complete clarity over the election results, as President Donald Trump has vowed to contest them in court and still refuses to concede. But by ending their reticence, Chinese officials are seemingly signaling that holding out any longer runs the risk of antagonizing Biden, with whom Beijing needs to work to reduce bilateral tensions.

However, Wang added that “we understand the US election results will be confirmed based on US law and procedure,” which is clearly aimed at placating Trump even though his legal challenges are virtually unwinnable. At the time of writing, President Xi Jinping had not sent a personal congratulatory message to Biden. “But already creeping into public discussions in Beijing is cautious optimism that the friction in ties between China and the United States is poised to take a breather once Biden is in power,” Wang wrote. Zhu Guangyao, a former deputy finance minister who was deeply involved in China’s economic and trade talks with the Obama administration, said at a webinar on Wednesday that Beijing and Washington should work together again to tackle urgent and important issues – from coordinating fiscal policies for confronting the global economic downturn, to battling the raging pandemic.