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China congratulates Biden on the presidency after holding out

Then-Vice President Biden and Chinese President Xi, Sept. 25, 2015. (State Department photo/ Public Domain)
November 13, 2020

On Friday, China congratulated Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, nearly a week after several U.S. media outlets called the 2020 U.S. election on his behalf. China was among several nations holding off on congratulating a winner as President Donald Trump has continued to raise legal challenges over the election.

The Associated Press reported Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin on Friday said, “We respect the choice of the American people,” adding, “We congratulate Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris.”

On Saturday, as U.S. media outlets called the race for Biden, Wenbin initially said, “We noticed that Mr. Biden has declared election victory. We understand that the U.S. presidential election result will be determined following U.S. law and procedures.”

Wenbin’s newest comment comes as Trump continues to pursue lawsuits in Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, and Pennsylvania, alleging a range of concerns including voting irregularities, illegal voting, and illegal vote counting processes. Georgia has also ordered a hand recount after Trump led in the state on election day but fell behind Biden in the vote count several days later and is now behind by around 14,000 votes.

China’s shift to congratulate Biden comes after tensions throughout Trump’s presidency between the U.S. and China. Trump has sought sanctions against China for its legislative takeover of Hong Kong and sanctions for China’s reported use of concentration camps on ethnic minority groups in the Xinjiang region. Trump has also increased U.S. ties with Taiwan, which China has warned against.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has drawn particular criticism in China and the Chinese state-run media outlet Global Times in April called Pompeo an “enemy of world peace.”

Following Wenbin’s congratulations to Biden, Global Times editor tweeted, “I support Chinese Foreign Ministry in congratulating Biden. I think this is Pompeo’s fault. The attitude of the current US State Department toward China after the election is too bad. Chinese People hope to see Pompeo gone, no matter what trouble his successor brings to China.”

Other countries have also shown hesitation to congratulate a U.S. election winner.

Turkey similarly held out congratulating a winner in the 2020 U.S. race, but on Tuesday Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erodağan reportedly relented and expressed his congratulations for Biden.

Russia continues to hold out congratulations for the 2020 U.S. race and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Saturday said, “Obviously, you can see that certain legal procedures are coming there, which were announced by the incumbent president — therefore this situation is different, so we consider it correct to wait for the official announcement.”

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador also reportedly said on Saturday he would not congratulate a winner of the U.S. presidential election until legal challenges are concluded.

Others holding out on congratulating a winner include Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa, who in a translated tweet said, “Interesting. Complaints have been filed in all U.S. counties with a close outcome. The courts have not even begun to decide. Nevertheless #MSM (and not some official body) announce the winner. Congratulations from all sides. The rule of law does that.”