China congratulated US President-elect Joe Biden on Friday nearly a week after he was declared winner of the American election.
US-China ties have grown increasingly strained in recent years under the administration of incumbent Donald Trump, and relations are as icy as at any time since formal ties were established four decades ago.
“We respect the choice of the American people. We express our congratulations to Mr Biden and Ms Harris,” said foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin at a regular press briefing, referring to incoming vice president Kamala Harris.
Wang said China understands “the result of the US election will be determined in accordance with US laws and procedures”.
China was previously among a handful of major countries including Russia and Mexico that had not congratulated the president-elect, with Beijing commenting earlier this week simply that it had “noticed Mr Biden declared he is the winner”.
Since US media called the presidential race, Trump has not conceded to Biden as is traditional practice once a winner is projected.
Trump’s four years in the White House have been marked by a costly trade war between the two powers, with Beijing and Washington also sparring over blame for the Covid-19 pandemic and China’s human rights record in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.
Under his “America First” banner, Trump has portrayed China as the greatest threat to the United States and global democracy.