A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson recently expressed congratulations to U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden, leading China commentators to analyze why Beijing changed course from its earlier statement that it would wait for the U.S. presidential election results to be finalized before congratulating a winner.
The U.S. election results have yet to be finalized as several states are pending recounts while others have legal challenges.
Nevertheless, Democratic Party candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden declared victory on Nov. 7. President Donald Trump has not conceded and has alleged that widespread voter fraud led to skewed ballot counts.
On Nov. 9, spokesperson for Chinese foreign affairs ministry Wang Wenbin had said at a daily press briefing in Beijing that China would wait until the election results are “determined following U.S. law and procedures.”
At a daily press briefing on Nov. 13, Wang was again asked by a reporter why Chinese leaders have not congratulated Biden.
Wang answered: “We have been following the community’s reactions about the U.S. presidential election inside and outside of U.S. We respect the choice of the American people. We congratulate Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris.”
He emphasized: “We understand that the outcome of the U.S. election will be determined in accordance with U.S. laws and procedures.”
After Wang gave his answer, Chinese state-run broadcaster CCTV did not mention Wang’s congratulations when it reported a segment on his press briefing. Meanwhile, state-run media Xinhua used the headline: “Foreign ministry congratulates Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris” to emphasize that the reply was only from the foreign ministry.
U.S.-based China affairs commentator Tang Hao noted that four years ago when Trump won the election, “Beijing immediately announced that its top leader Xi Jinping officially sent out a congratulatory letter to then-president-elect Trump. Xinhua then published a long article to report about this letter… This year’s congratulatory message is very ambiguous.”
He also noticed that Wang only mentioned Biden and Harris by their names, but did not say they were recognized as “president and vice-president-elect.”
Tang analyzed that it could be because while Beijing prefers Biden to win, it does not wish to anger Trump, who may continue to launch more tough policies on China.
Commentator Tang Jingyuan believed that the Chinese Communist Party was signaling “a reaction, showing that it’s fighting back against Trump’s newest policies,” he said, adding that it is unusual for the Party leader Xi Jinping not to have given formal congratulations, if Beijing is indeed recognizing Biden as the victor.
Trump issued an executive order on Nov. 12 to stop U.S. investments from flowing into Chinese companies that are tied to China’s military, citing threats to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.
That same day, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talked about the Chinese regime’s threat to Taiwan while giving an interview to the Hugh Hewitt Show.
Pompeo said Taiwan had never been a part of Communist China. The Chinese regime considers the self-ruled island part of its territory and considers challenges to its claim over Taiwan’s sovereignty as crossing a red line.
“We ought to honor the commitments that have been made and we have a set of obligations. You’ve seen our announcements with respect to weapon sales to Taiwan to assist in their defense capabilities,” Pompeo said.
Tang analyzed that Beijing wanted to express its dissatisfaction with the administration’s hardline stance on China issues with vague congratulations.