Why China Is Hedging Its Bets on a Biden Presidency

Why China Is Hedging Its Bets on a Biden Presidency
Chinese leader Xi Jinping and then-U.S. Vice President Joe Biden during an arrival ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, Sept. 24, 2015 (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR contributor Lavender Au and Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curate the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. Subscribers can adjust their newsletter settings to receive China Note by email every week.

Although Chinese leader Xi Jinping still has not yet issued a statement or called to congratulate Joe Biden on his election win over Donald Trump, prominent commentators in China are already discussing what his presidency means for U.S.-China relations. Trump is still mounting dubious legal challenges to the election’s outcome, and has now embarked on a purge of the Pentagon, getting rid of his defense secretary and several other senior officials, so China may be refraining from comment to avoid any erratic response from the White House.

When asked why the Chinese government has not yet congratulated Biden, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Wang Wenbin had a vague response. “We always believe China and the United States should strengthen communication and dialogue, manage differences on the basis of mutual respect, expand cooperation based on mutual benefit, and promote the sound and stable development of China-U.S. relations,” he said. China’s most authoritative media outlet, the state-run People’s Daily, reprinted Wang’s answers, without any other commentary on what the future of relations with Washington might hold.

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