CHINA had joined the growing list of nations to recognise Joe Biden as the US president-elect after the government in Beijing sent the former vice president a congratulatory message pledging to work with his incoming administrations.
On November 3, Americans went to the polls and in a tough presidential race, Mr Biden of the Democratic Party beat incumbent President Donald Trump of the Republican Party. Despite Mr Biden winning with a margin of over 5m votes and projected to clinch 306 of the 538 college votes, President Trump has refused to concede defeat.
For over a week now, China has tried to stay on the fence and not take sides but with the State of Arizona declared for Mr Biden yesterday, bringing in an additional 11 electoral college votes for Mt Biden, Beijing has decided to accept the reality that Mr Trump is toast. This morning, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin congratulated Mr Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris.
Mr Wenbin said: “We have been following the reaction on this US presidential election from both within the United States and from the international community. We respect the American people’s choice and extend congratulations to Mr Biden and Ms Harris.”
Several world leaders have already congratulated Mr Biden and Ms Harris on their victory but China along with several other nations including Russia and Mexico that had held back, not wanting to be seen as meddling in domestic US affairs. However, with President Trump unable to substantiate his claims of electoral fraud, there is a growing realisation that he will have to leave the White House on January 20 next year.
US-China ties have grown increasingly strained in recent years under the Trump administration and relations are currently very icy. President 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.
Recently, the Trump government threatened to leave the World Trade Organisation (WTO), just as it quit the World Health Organisation. It also blocked the WTO’s dispute settlement appeal system since last December, insisting that China must move up from the developing economies category.
US-China trade spats started in 2018 when President Trump began setting tariffs and other trade barriers with the goal of forcing Beijing to make changes to what he described as unfair trade practices. This 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 after adopting Nigeria’s former finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, as a consensus candidate but the Trump administration opposed the move.