Silent Xi

PRESIDENT XI JINPING has not yet publicly congratulated prospective President-elected Joe Biden on winning the US presidential election. There is no hurry for Xi to do so, and every reason for him to bide his time.

The state of US-China relations could look much different by the time President Donald Trump leaves office on January 20, if, indeed, he is to do so. Trump has plenty of scope for action on the China file over the next two months should he chose to take it, particularly if he wishes to exact retribution for what he sees as Beijing’s part in the Covid-19 pandemic that doomed his re-election chances.

No one is expecting a fundamental reset of China-US relations under a Biden presidency; if anything, Biden’s capacity to draw together international allies and engage in US-led multilateralism presents Beijing with an additional challenge. But tone and tenor should change. Letting that settle as quietly as he can over the coming weeks looks to be Xi’s best bet at the moment.

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