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Xi Seeks to ‘Manage Differences’ as He Congratulates Biden

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 26/11/2020 Nick Wadhams
a man wearing a suit and tie: Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at a luncheon hosted by the Mayor's office. © Photographer: Tim Rue/Corbis Historical Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at a luncheon hosted by the Mayor's office.

(Bloomberg) -- China’s President Xi Jinping broke his silence on Joe Biden’s election victory, sending the U.S. president-elect a message that he hopes to “manage differences” and focus on cooperation between the world’s two largest economies.

The congratulatory note, reported by the official Xinhua News Agency, said China wants to advance a “healthy and stable” relationship and uphold the principles of “no conflict” and “no confrontation.”

Biden appreciates the congratulations he’s receiving from world leaders, including Xi, a spokesman for the president-elect’s transition office said.

China’s ruling Communist Party leaders had held off on offering extended comments as President Donald Trump pursued unfounded claims of fraud in an effort to overturn the Nov. 3 election. An earlier Foreign Ministry statement sent congratulations and said China respected the American people’s choice.

Trump has ratcheted up tensions with Beijing over the course of his administration, hitting China with tariffs in continuing trade disputes, blaming it for the coronavirus pandemic and condemning its treatment of ethnic Uighurs in the Xinjiang region and its crackdown on freedoms in Hong Kong.

As Biden prepares to take office, the world is watching to see how he handles the relationship between Washington and Beijing, after a campaign in which he faced few questions about how he would handle Beijing more effectively than Trump. Officials have suggested the president-elect would take a less confrontational approach to China than Trump, cooperating on issues such as arms control and climate change.

This Is What Biden Has Said on Major U.S. Flashpoints With China

Biden’s team has acknowledged that the Obama-era effort to work more closely with China -- and look past some of its violations of human rights, intellectual property threats and regional expansion -- is over.

Trump’s Rift

Still, the new administration will inherit -- and be forced to navigate -- the Trump-era rift between the U.S. and China. Trump is planning more hard-line moves against Beijing in the remaining weeks of his term, Bloomberg reported earlier this month, potentially escalating tensions as the Biden administration takes over.

Actions being considered include countering illegal fishing and more sanctions against party officials or institutions causing harm in Hong Kong or Xinjiang, Bloomberg reported.

The Trump administration is close to issuing a list of 89 Chinese aerospace and other firms that would be unable to access U.S. technology exports because of military ties, Reuters reported this week, a move that could escalate tensions as the Biden administration prepares to take over.

(Updates with further context.)

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