China’s president Xi calls Joe Biden to congratulate him on victory

China‘s President Xi Jinping has congratulated Joe Biden for winning the US presidential election, Chinese state media reported Wednesday. 

President Xi expressed his hope for ‘healthy and stable’ development of the China-US relations during a congratulatory phone call on Wednesday, according to China’s state news agency Xinhua.

Xi said this was not only in the fundamental interests of the people of both countries, but also the common expectation of the international community.

The Chinese leader called for China and the US to avoid conflicts and confrontations. He also hoped the two nations to uphold the spirit of mutual respect and win-win cooperation.

The call makes him the latest world leader to speak to the president-elect, and leaves Vladimir Putin as the highest-profile holdout.

Also still to congratulate Biden are Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, a Trump ally and friend, and Mexico’s Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a populist leftist who appears to be avoiding last-minute conflict with his departing northern neighbor. 

Message: China’s president Xi Jinping became the latest world leader to speak to Joe Biden and called for ‘healthy and stable’ relations

Xi told Biden that ‘healthy and stable’ relations were ‘the common expectation of the international community,’ according to a statement carried by the official Xinhua News Agency.

‘We hope the two sides will uphold the spirit of non-conflict and non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation, will focus on cooperation, control differences and promote healthy and stable development of Chinese-U.S. relations,’ the statement said. 

He did not mention tariffs in his statement. Trump’s attempts at a trade war with China have centered on hitting imports from it with tariffs – which are paid for by American consumers – while negotiating deals to import farm goods to China.

Markets have been roiled by the tariffs and instability in the trading relationship, and have hoped for Biden to bring a more stable approach, although he appears unlikely to roll back tariffs entirely. 

China’s Vice President Wang Qishan also called Kamala Harris to congratulate her for becoming the US vice-president-elect, Xinhua said.   

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.

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.

China was part of Trump’s attack on Biden in the closing weeks of the election.

Trump hit out at Biden on his previous China policy positions, accusing him of ‘shipping jobs to China’ with his support for trade policies which made it easier for China to export to the U.S. 

He also called for a probe into Biden’s son Hunter’s business dealings with the country.

Hunter Biden’s infamous laptop contained details of his attempts to make money in deals with the country after his father left office, although he had previously been involved in business there when his father was vice president.

Trump himself was revealed by John Bolton to have asked Xi to help him win in 2020, while the New York Times revealed he had a Chinese bank account and paid tax there – in fact he paid more in tax there than his U.S. income tax in 2016 and 2017.

Xi’s congratulations came after Biden unveiled his foreign policy and national security team.  

Biden faces a challenging task fulfilling his foreign policy vision of the United States reclaiming its global leadership role after years in which the country stepped back and rival powers like China stepped in.

Introducing his national security team that includes veteran diplomats, Biden and his nominees on Tuesday emphasized working to strengthen alliances and multilateralism, ideas that fell out of favor during the ‘America First’ approach of Republican President Donald Trump.

‘It’s a team that reflects the fact that America is back, ready to lead the world, not retreat from it,’ he told a news briefing in Wilmington, Delaware.

But analysts said that while the incoming Democratic administration could secure quick reversals in areas such as rejoining the Paris climate agreement that Trump abandoned, it would be more difficult reclaiming the global power relinquished by Washington, a trend that started before Trump.

‘Biden, to the extent he reinforces those norms and institutions, will help shore up America’s position,’ St. Lawrence University history professor Howard Eissenstat said.

‘What he cannot do is change the hard reality that the U.S. is no longer that exceptional: Other countries and regions can and will effectively compete in every sphere.’

Biden, who takes office on Jan. 20, will be taking on a much different world from the one he left four years ago as Barack Obama’s vice president. China has assumed a larger global role, ranging from multilateral institutions to assisting development in Africa and Latin America.

‘It might start to look an awful lot like Obama 2.0 rather than Biden if it’s talking a big game about returning to Asia but resources are declining,’ said Randall Schriver, who worked as assistant secretary of defense under Trump.

Over the past four years, the United States has taken steps to withdraw from the World Health Organization and pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. Trump questioned NATO’s relevance and resisted taking a tough approach against foreign policy rivals such as Russian President Vladimir Putin, moves that raised eyebrows among allies.

The United States and China have been increasingly at odds during the Trump presidency, as the world’s two biggest economies clashed over trade, Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus, and Hong Kong and the South China Sea.

During the election campaign, Biden vowed to take a tough line on China’s expanding influence worldwide, reverse Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord and rejoin the Iran nuclear accord if Tehran resumes strict compliance.

‘We can’t solve all the world’s problems alone’ he said on Tuesday. ‘We need to be working with other countries, we need their cooperation, we need their partnership.’

But current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday that ‘multilateralism for the sake of hanging out with your buddies at a cool cocktail party – that’s not in the best interest of the United States of America.’

Citing the defeat of Islamic State militants in Syria and actions to contain China and Iran, Pompeo told Fox News: ‘We work with nations when we have common interests and we develop coalitions that actually deliver real results and reflect the reality on the ground. That wasn’t what was happening when we came in here to the State Department.’  


JOHN KERRY – Special Presidential Envoy for Climate

Kerry, who served as secretary of state under Obama and the Democratic Party nominee in 2004, is to be Biden’s climate czar. The two men are longtime friends. They overlapped for years in the Senate and share a focus on international issues.

Kerry also helped negotiate the Paris Climate Accord as well as the Iran nuclear deal, which both became targets for President Trump.

He will be Special Presidential Envoy for Climate and will serve on the White House national security counsel. 

John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate

John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate

‘For the first time ever, the United States will have a full-time climate leader who will participate in ministerial-level meetings — that’s a fancy way of saying they’ll have a seat at every table around the world,’ Biden said in his remarks. 

He touted Kerry’s credentials for the job and their close, personal relationship.

‘The world will know that one of my closest friends — John Kerry — is speaking for America on one of the most pressing threats of our time,’ he said. 

Kerry praised Biden for his commitment to the environment and for his pledge to return the United States to the Paris Climate Accord on the first day of his presidency.

‘You’re right to rejoin Paris on day one, and you’re right to recognize that Paris alone does not get the job done,’ he said. 

Kerry’s new position does not require Senate confirmation. 

TONY BLINKEN – Secretary of State 

Biden noted Blinken, one of his longtime advisers, comes from a family of ‘immigrants and refugees’ that include ‘a Holocaust survivor who taught him to never take for granted the very idea of America as a place of possibilities.’

Blinken worked for Vice President Biden before moving over to become Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser and then the administration’s deputy secretary of state. 

Tony Blinken, Secretary of State

Tony Blinken, Secretary of State

He plays in a Parisian jazz band and is married with two young children.

In his remarks, Blinken thanked his family, including his father Donald, the former U.S. ambassador to Hungry, and his mother Judith Pisar, who was a major figure on the New York arts and social scene.

And then he told the story of his step-father, a Jew who survived a concentration camp as a child.   

‘My late step-father, Samuel Pisar, was one of 900 children in his school in Bialystok, Poland, but the only one to survive the Holocaust after four years in concentration camps,’ he said.

‘At the end of the war, he made a break from a death march into the Bavarian woods. From his hiding place, he heard the rumbling sound of a tank. Instead of an Iron Cross, he saw a 5- pointed White Star.’

‘He ran to the tank. The hatch opened. An African American GI looked down at him. He fell to his knees and said the only three words he knew in English that his mother had taught him: God Bless America. The GI lifted him into the tank, into America, into freedom.’

Blinken concluded: ‘That’s what America represents to the world, however imperfectly.’ 

ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS – Secretary of Homeland Security 

Mayorkas,a Cuban American, is a former deputy secretary for the department and will be the first Latino to lead it.

‘While DHS affects everyone, given its critical role in immigration matters, I am proud that for the first time ever, the Department will be led by an immigrant, a Latino, who knows that we are a nation of laws and values,’ Biden said.

Alejandro Mayorkas, director of Homeland Security

Alejandro Mayorkas, director of Homeland Security

The president-elect also wished him a happy birthday. 

‘And one more thing — today is his birthday,’ Biden said. 

‘Happy birthday. He’s 21,’ he joked. 

Mayorkas pledged to restore moral at the department, which has seen several chiefs move through its halls during the Trump administration and struggled with Trump’s desire to keep illegal immigrants from crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

‘The Department of Homeland Security has a noble mission: to help keep us safe and to advance our proud history as a country of welcome,’ he said.

‘There are more than 240,000 career employees who selflessly dedicate their talent and energy to this mission. Many risk their lives in doing so. I would be honored to return to the Department and support these dedicated public servants in fulfilling their responsibilities and realizing our country’s greatest hopes, all in partnership with the communities we serve.’

He could be one of the more difficult confirmations for the Biden team. When he was deputy secretary every Republican senator voted against his confirmation and he was only confirmed because Democrats controlled the chamber at that time. 

A former U.S. attorney, President Obama nominated him to be the Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency that administers the legal immigration system.

But, during his tenure, Mayorkas was repeatedly accused of political favoritism when granting ‘Green Cards to wealthy foreign investors’ – an issue that could come up in the confirmation process. 

AVRIL HAINES – Director of National Intelligence 

Haines will be the first woman to hold the position, which does not require Senate confirmation.

Biden described her as ‘Brilliant. Humble. Can talk literature and theoretical physics, fixing cars, flying planes, and running a bookstore cafe, in a single conversation — because she’s done all of that.’

Avril Haines, Director of National Intelligence

Avril Haines, Director of National Intelligence

Haines praised the intelligence community repeatedly in her remarks. That group took a beating in the Trump administration when the president railed against them for what he called ‘spying’ on his 2016 campaign and casting doubt on their findings that Russia influenced the 2016 election.

‘We have worked together for a long time, and I accept this nomination knowing that you would never want me to do otherwise — that you value the perspective of the Intelligence Community and that you will do so even when what I have to say may be inconvenient or difficult. I assure you there will be those times,’ she said to Biden.

And then she added: ‘To our intelligence professionals, the work you do — oftentimes under the most austere conditions imaginable — is indispensable. It will become even more complex because you will be critical to helping this administration position itself not only against threats such as cyber attacks, terrorism, and the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons but also those challenges that will define the next generation — from climate change, to pandemics, and corruption.’

She has a colorful employment history.

In the 1990s, she ran an independent book store in Baltimore that was known for having an unusual collection of literary offerings, local writers, erotica reading nights, and small press publications.

The store hosted a number of literary readings, including erotica readings, which became a media focus when she was appointed by Obama to be the Deputy Director of the CIA. 

After graduating high school, Haines traveled to Japan for a year and enrolled in Kodokan, an elite judo institute in Tokyo. While attending the University of Chicago, Haines worked repairing car engines at a mechanic shop in Hyde Park. In 1991 Haines had taken up flying lessons in New Jersey, where she met her future husband, David Davighi. 

LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD – U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations  

Biden noted her long tenure of 35 years in the Foreign Service and her Louisiana roots. 

‘The eldest of eight. Her Dad couldn’t read or write, but she says he was the smartest person she knew. First in her family to graduate from high school, then college, with the whole world literally ahead of her, as her Dad and Mom taught her to believe,’ he said.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

And Thomas-Greenfield described her ‘gumbo diplomacy’ approach to foreign affairs.

‘Mr. President-elect, I’ve often heard you say how all politics is personal. That’s how you build relationships of trust and bridge disagreements and find common ground,’ she said.

‘In my thirty-five years in the Foreign Service across four continents, I put a Cajun spin on it. It’s called Gumbo diplomacy. Wherever I was posted around the world, I’d invite people of different backgrounds and beliefs to make a roux, chop onions for the holy trinity, and make homemade gumbo — my way to break down barriers, connect with people, and start to see each other on a human level: a bit of lagniappe as we say in Louisiana,’ she added. 

Her return to public service is something of a triumph.

In 2017, when she was a deputy secretary of state, she was terminated by the Trump administration as part of a purge of career officials.

In her remarks, she voiced the philosophy of the Biden administration: ‘I want to say to you: America is back. Multilateralism is back. Diplomacy is back.’ 

JAKE SULLIVAN – National Security Adviser

Sullivan served as Biden’s national security adviser when Biden was vice president. His position does not require Senate confirmation.

Jake Sullivan, National Security Adviser

Jake Sullivan, National Security Adviser

‘We need to invest in our people, sharpen our innovative edge, and unite the economic might of democracies around the world to grow the middle class and reduce inequality — and do things like counter the predatory trade practices of our competitors and adversaries,’ Biden said of what he tasked Sullivan with doing. 

In his remarks, Sullivan noted that Biden tasked the team with  ‘putting people at the center of our national security. The alliances we rebuild, the institutions we lead, the agreements we sign — all of them should be judged by a basic question: will this make life better, easier, safer, for working families across this country? Our foreign policy has to deliver for these families.’

His wife Maggie served as a senior adviser to the late Senator John McCain. 

Sullivan worked for Hillary Clinton in the State Department and was an adviser to her 2016 campaign.  

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