President Xi Jinping led China in congratulating Donald Trump on becoming president-elect of the US against a backdrop of uncertainty about the future of bilateral relations already fraught with mistrust and competition.
Chinese mainland stock markets fell on Wednesday as Trump overtook and then defeated rival Hillary Clinton in the polls. The fall reflected Chinese investors’ concerns about Trump becoming the leader of the world’s largest economy.
Editorials in the state media talked about upheavals in diplomatic and economic relations, citing Trump’s anti-China rhetoric throughout his often divisive campaign.
Xi, of course, sent a congratulatory message to Trump that talked about working together to maintain world peace and stability.
In his message, Xi was quoted by state media as saying that while China is the world's largest developing country and the US the largest developed power, both, as the world's top economies, bear the special responsibility of maintaining global peace and stability and boosting development and prosperity. They also share extensive interests, he said.
“I highly value the relations between China and the US and I am looking forward to working together with you to expand China-US cooperation in every field, at the bilateral, regional and global levels, on the basis of the principles of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation, with differences controlled in a constructive manner, so as to push China-US relations further forward from a new starting point, better benefiting the peoples of the two countries and other countries,” Xi said.
Asked about Trump’s persistent anti-China rhetoric, foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said Beijing was waiting to see how the real estate mogul deals with bilateral ties.
“Just elected yesterday. We are waiting to see what policies he will adopt on China,” Lu said, adding China is looking forward to develop “principles of non-confrontation”.
An editorial in the nationalistic Global Times expressed some of the apprehensions that China has after Trump’s win.
“What a Trump victory will mean for Sino-US relations is far from clear. China is more familiar with Clinton, a former secretary of state and former first lady, but Beijing has no experience with Trump. Throughout his campaign, Trump regularly railed against China and displayed his intent to drastically adjust US foreign trade policy, both of which increase the uncertainty in Sino-US relations,” the piece said.
“China and the US are economically interdependent, so economic and political tensions can be a double-edged sword. If Trump follows his campaign stance and imposes pressure on China over a host of economic issues, US firms doing business in China may get caught in the fallout,” it added.
The state media also expressed doubts over Trump’s climate change policies.
“The President-elect has widely been seen as a climate change skeptic. He has said time and again that climate change is a hoax -- a hoax invented by China to harm US industries. He also pledged to ‘cancel’ the landmark Paris climate agreement and ‘stop all payments of US tax dollars to UN global warming programs’,” official website China.org said.
It added: “The election results have thus put a big question mark on the fate of the Paris Agreement and the cause of tackling climate change in the US as well as the world at large. The US contributes around 16% of the world's carbon emissions, and the Obama administration pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28% below its 2005 level by 2025 and to ‘make best efforts’ to reduce its emissions by 28%.”