China’s tightly controlled state media have so far given the clearest indication that Beijing favors Joe Biden as the next American leader after a senior newspaper editor tweeted a joke about the former vice president on Thursday.
Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the militant newspaper of China’s Communist Party Global Times, shared a screenshot of a Twitter user’s observation that the Democratic presidential candidate could “normalize” relations between the world’s two leading economies.
From a wise netizen: pic.twitter.com/cUzqXgFaB7
– Hu Xijin è¡é¡è¿ (@HuXijin_GT) November 5, 2020
“If Biden is elected, I am really sure that the relationship between China and the USA will normalize. Because Beijing is [sic]for Biden City,” was the anonymous tweet referring to the country’s former imperial palace, which has become a museum.
Hu, like others in his position, has largely concealed the preference of the Chinese leadership in the U.S. presidential election of 2020. He described the Twitter user he quoted as “a wise netizen”.
After President Donald Trump had caused controversy on election day by claiming that the Democrats were “trying to steal the election,” the head of the Global Times teased his supporters with a cryptic tweet suggesting that the chaos of votes was a “win-win situation” for Beijing.
China wallows in US election uncertainty, chaos “win-win” situation for Beijing
China’s blanket silence before election day had led observers to speculate which candidate Chinese President Xi Jinping really preferred. Four more years of a disorganized Trump administration would benefit Beijing in its quest for more global influence, some argued, while others thought Biden might be more accommodating on issues such as trade and Taiwan’s status.
On Wednesday, the Chinese government officially adopted the position of neutrality in the elections.
“The US presidential election is the internal affair of the country. China does not take a position on this,” State Department spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters at a press conference.
But there seemed to be a slight shift in the approach on Thursday, when reports in the United States showed that President Trump’s hopes for a second term in office faded overnight. The Associated Press reported that Biden had secured 264 votes on the electoral college, only six of the 270 votes needed to send him to the White House. However, as states like Arizona remain controversial, CNN’s decision is rather hesitant and has brought Biden to 253 votes.
When asked about the course of the elections in the Pacific, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng said he hoped for more cooperation with the “next US administration”.
“China’s attitude towards bilateral relations is clear and consistent,” the state-run Xinhua News Agency quoted him as saying. “Although there are differences between the two countries, they also have far-reaching common interests and scope for cooperation”.
“Maintaining and promoting a healthy and steady development of bilateral relations serves the fundamental interests of the two peoples and the common aspiration of the international community,” Le added.
“We hope that the next U.S. administration will meet China halfway, uphold the principles of freedom from conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and cooperation from which both sides benefit, focus on cooperation, deal with differences and move bilateral relations forward on the right path,” the Minister said.
Le’s remarks were later adopted by other major state-run media such as the Global Times and China Daily.