Beijing congratulates Biden, with reservations

Foreign Affairs

China’s Foreign Ministry issued a cautious congratulation to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris at its daily press conference.

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Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Wāng Wénbīn 汪文斌 sent “congratulations to Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris.”

Today, a week after Joe Biden was declared winner of the 2020 presidential election, Beijing congratulated the U.S. president-elect. China was among the last countries to do so (although Brazil, North Korea, and Russia have yet to call). Spokesperson Wāng Wénbīn 汪文斌, at the daily news conference at China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said today (in English, Chinese):

We have been following reactions to the U.S. presidential election within the U.S. and from the international community. We respect the American people’s choice. We send congratulations to Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris.

But ever cautious — what if Trump hangs on to power? — Wang added a reservation: “At the same time, we understand that the outcome of the U.S. election will be determined in accordance with U.S. laws and procedures.”

  • China’s initial holdout stands in contrast to the 2016 presidential race, when Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 congratulated Trump a day after the election. As we noted on Monday, it indicated Beijing’s caution to avoid provoking the U.S., as Trump refuses to concede the election.

Meanwhile, in Washington, Trump is not done with China yet  

In the final days of Trump’s presidency, the White House will continue implementing tough measures on China, as the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, said in a speech earlier this week.

And yesterday, the Trump White House issued an executive order prohibiting U.S. investments in Chinese companies that Washington says are owned or controlled by the Chinese military. Reuters says the order “could impact some of China’s biggest companies,” including China Telecom, China Mobile, and surveillance equipment maker Hikvision.

  • The order would bar American investment firms and pension funds from buying shares “of any Communist Chinese military company as defined” by a June blacklist published by the U.S. Department of Defense.
  • The executive order does not specify penalties for violations, but does give “the Treasury Department the ability to invoke ‘all powers’ granted by the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which authorizes the use of tough sanctions,” Reuters notes.