China, one of the last major holdouts, congratulates Biden on election

American flags displayed together with Chinese flags
American flags are displayed together with Chinese flags on top of a cycle rickshaw in Beijing.
(Andy Wong / Associated Press)

China on Friday became one of the last major countries to congratulate Joe Biden on being elected president.

China, along with Russia, avoided joining the throng of governments that congratulated Biden last weekend after he was projected to have secured enough electoral college votes in the Nov. 3 election to win the White House.

“We respect the choice of the American people,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said. “We congratulate Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris” — Biden’s running mate, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.


Wang gave no reason for the delay but said that “the result will be confirmed according to U.S. laws and procedures.”

U.S.-Chinese relations have plunged to their lowest level in decades amid a tariff war over Beijing’s technology ambitions and trade surplus, accusations of spying and tension over human rights, the COVID-19 pandemic, Hong Kong and control of the South China Sea.

How will Joe Biden handle the sensitive relationship between superpower rivals China and the U.S.?

President Trump has labeled China a security threat and imposed export curbs and other sanctions on Chinese companies. On Thursday, he stepped up those sanctions by issuing an order barring Americans from investing in securities issued by companies that U.S. officials say are owned or controlled by the Chinese military.

Political analysts expect few changes under a Biden administration because of bipartisan frustration with Beijing’s trade and human rights record and accusations of spying and technology theft.

“A tough stance on China has broad support across the U.S. political spectrum,” Louis Kuijs of Oxford Economics said in a report this week. “Biden’s own pronouncements and policy program suggest he will continue to try to maintain the U.S. technological lead and to attract manufacturing activity.”

The Trump administration this week also condemned the removal of four pro-democracy lawmakers in Hong Kong under a new Chinese policy giving the city’s pro-Beijing government the power to do so.