ANTHONY WALLACE / AFP
After more than a week of deafening silence, China finally congratulated Joe Biden and running-mate Kamala Harris on their victory in the United States election, joining a chorus of governments to acknowledge the win despite President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede.The nod however, came from China’s foreign ministry - not directly from president Xi Jinping, a break from other countries whose leaders have personally sent congratulations either in tweets or in phone calls.
Speaking at a weekly state media news conference held on Friday, foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin, who previously tread cautiously when asked about the result, conveyed Beijing’s well wishes. “We respect the American people’s choice and congratulate Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris.” At the same time, Wang added: “We understand that the U.S. election results will be confirmed based on law and procedure.”China is one of the last major countries to congratulate Biden and Harris. It previously declined to add its voice to the list of well-wishers, saying that the “outcome” of the vote was still to be determined. Reaction from other historic rivals like North Korea has still been very muted or non-existent. Russian president Vladimir Putin has yet to officially congratulate the new president-elect.Trump still refuses to concede defeat despite advice from his inner political circle, but his path to challenging the result through the courts is unlikely to succeed. No evidence of widespread voter fraud has been found but Trump continues to make misleading claims about its existence.Meanwhile, Biden’s transition team is pressing ahead. He made several calls to European leaders on Tuesday to set out his priorities for his incoming term, which starts after the official inauguration schedule for Jan. 20, 2021 in Washington. Customs dictates that Trump should attend the ceremony to emphasize the importance of a smooth transition of power as former president Barack Obama did following Trump’s stunning 2016 victory.