BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday congratulated Joe Biden on winning the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election, voicing hope the two countries could promote a healthy and stable development of bilateral ties, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
Sino-U.S. relations have deteriorated to their worst in decades during incumbent U.S. President’s Donald Trump’s four years in office, with disputes simmering over issues from trade and technology to Hong Kong and the coronavirus.
In his congratulatory message to Biden, Xi said healthy ties between the world’s two biggest economies were not only in the fundamental interests of their two peoples but also expected by the international community, Xinhua reported.
Asked to comment, an official of Biden’s transition team said: “We appreciate the congratulations from all world leaders who have conveyed them, including President Xi.”
During the election campaign, Biden vowed a tough line on China’s expanding influence worldwide and referred to Xi more than once as a “thug” for his human rights practices.
On Tuesday, in formally unveiling his foreign policy team, Biden said allies were looking forward to the United States reasserting its historic role as a global leader in the Pacific, where China has been seeking to supplant it as the dominant power.
At the same time, Biden, who is due to take office on Jan. 20, has prioritized progress on issues such as climate change, nuclear nonproliferation and global health, for which he will need Chinese cooperation.
China’s foreign ministry congratulated Biden on Nov. 13, nearly a week after many U.S. allies had, holding out as Trump, who is still challenging the election results, refused to concede defeat.
In 2016, Xi sent congratulations to Trump on Nov. 9, a day after that year’s election.
Also on Wednesday, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan congratulated Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris, on being elected as the next U.S. vice president, Xinhua said, without providing further details.
(Reporting by Colin Qian and Tony Munroe; additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Washington; Writing by Tom Daly; Editing by Toby Chopra/Mark Heinrich and Jonathan Oatis)