Officials in Moscow and Beijing have declined to comment on the outcome of the US presidential election, saying they will wait for official results before congratulating the winner.
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Russian President Vladimir Putin has remained silent on the issue since Democrat Joe Biden handed over the presidency on Saturday, four days after the November 3 election, clearing the threshold for the 270 votes needed to win the White House.
During the vote, Putin had seemed to secure his bets and frowned on Biden’s anti-Russian rhetoric but welcomed his comments on nuclear control. Putin had also defended Biden’s son Hunter against criticism from Trump.
In a conference call to journalists, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that Moscow considered it better to wait before congratulating someone.
“We think it is appropriate to wait for the official vote,” Peskov said.
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Asked why Putin had congratulated Trump in 2016 shortly after he won the Electoral College and defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton, Peskov said there was a clear difference this time around.
“You can see that there are certain legal procedures that have been announced by the current president. That is why the situations are different and we therefore believe that it is appropriate to wait for an official announcement,” Peskov said.
He noted that Putin had repeatedly said he was ready to cooperate with all US leaders and that Russia hoped it could establish a dialogue with a new US government and find a way to normalize troubled bilateral relations.
Moscow’s ties with Washington sank to decline after the Cold War in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine. Biden served as Vice President under President Barack Obama at the time.
Conditions worsened over US allegations that Moscow had interfered in the 2016 US presidential election to try to skew the vote in Trump’s favor, which the Kremlin denied.
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China has also been congratulating Biden and saying that it will be customary to respond to the results.
“We noticed that Mr. Biden has declared the election victory, “Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a daily media lecture. “We understand that the outcome of the US presidential election will be determined by US law and procedures.”
In 2016, Chinese President Xi Jinping sent congratulations to Trump on November 9, one day after the election.
Relations between China and the United States are at their worst in decades over disputes ranging from technology and trade to Hong Kong and the coronavirus, and the Trump administration has released a reduction in sanctions against Beijing.
While Biden is expected to maintain a tough stance on China – he has called Xi a “cheater” and promised to lead a campaign to “press, isolate and punish China” – he is likely to take a more measured and multilateral approach.
“We always believe that China and the United States should improve communication and dialogue, address differences on the basis of mutual respect, expand cooperation on the basis of mutual benefit and promote the sound and stable development of bilateral relations,” Wang told the briefing.
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Hu Xijin, editor of the Global Times, a tabloid published by the ruling Communist Party’s People’s Daily, said in a tweet: “China has not congratulated Biden on its victory as quickly as the West did.”
“I think it’s because China needs to distance itself from the US presidential election in order to avoid getting caught up in its controversy. This actually shows that China respects the United States as a whole,” he added.
Earlier on Monday, Chinese state media struck an optimistic tone in leaders, saying relations could be restored to a state of greater predictability, beginning with trade.
While acknowledging that Washington was unlikely to reduce pressure on China on issues such as Xinjiang and Hong Kong, the Global Times said Beijing should work to communicate with Biden’s team.
“It is in the common interest of people from both countries and for the international community that China-US relations become easier and controllable,” it said.
The China Daily said it was “obvious” that improving ties with China could begin from trade, and that reviving trade talks was crucial to restoring some understanding and confidence.
( Jowharwith REUTERS)