World

China and Russia play it cool, hold off congratulating Biden

BEIJING/MOSCOW: China and Russia held off congratulating US President-elect Joe Biden yesterday, with Bejing saying it would follow usual custom in its response, and the Kremlin noting incumbent Donald Trump's vow to pursue legal challenges.

Democrat Biden clinched enough states to win the presidency on Saturday and has begun making plans for when he takes office on Jan 20.

Mr Trump has not conceded defeat and plans rallies to build support for legal challenges.

Some of the US' biggest and closest allies in Europe, the Middle East and Asia quickly congratulated Mr Biden over the weekend, as did some Trump allies, including Israel and Saudi Arabia.

But Beijing and Moscow were more cautious.

"We noticed that Mr Biden has declared election victory," China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said.

"We understand that the US presidential election results will be determined following US law and procedures."

In 2016, Chinese President Xi Jinping sent congratulations to Mr Trump on Nov 9, a day after the election.

Relations between China and the US are at their worst in decades over disputes ranging from technology and trade to Hong Kong and the coronavirus, and the Trump administration has unleashed a barrage of sanctions against Beijing.

While Mr Biden is expected to maintain a tough stance on China - he has called Mr Xi a "thug" and vowed to lead a campaign to "pressure, isolate and punish China" - he is likely to take a more measured and multilateral approach.

Chinese state media struck an optimistic tone in editorials, saying relations could be restored to a state of greater predictability, starting with trade.

The Kremlin said it would wait for the official results of the election before commenting.

President Vladimir Putin has remained silent since Mr Biden's victory.

"We think it appropriate to wait for the official vote count," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Asked why, in 2016, Mr Putin had congratulated Mr Trump soon after he had won, Mr Peskov said: "You can see that there are certain legal procedures that have been announced by the... President.

"That is why the situations are different and we therefore think it appropriate to wait for an official announcement". - REUTERS

WORLD