HONG KONG — China’s state news media reacted with cautious optimism to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the United States’ presidential election, expressing hope that he would stabilize the fast-deteriorating relations between the two countries.
But many outlets also continued to warn of future tensions between the superpowers, and to suggest that American democracy was in decline.
Under President Trump, trust and cooperation between the United States and China ebbed to their lowest levels in recent history, as a trade war raged and officials on both sides hurled recriminations about espionage, protest movements and the coronavirus pandemic. China’s state-controlled news outlets had criticized Mr. Trump and the United States increasingly stridently in recent months.
But the immediate reaction to Mr. Biden’s victory on Sunday was measured, indicating that China was willing to attempt, and indeed was eager for, a thaw.
“The outcome could usher in a ‘buffering period’ for already-tense China-U.S. relations, and offer an opportunity for breakthroughs in resuming high-level communication and rebuilding mutual strategic trust,” Global Times, a fiercely nationalistic tabloid, wrote in an article, citing Chinese experts.
The article suggested that the two countries could work together on combating climate change, containing the coronavirus and developing vaccines, noting that Mr. Biden would be “more moderate and mature” on foreign affairs.
The response echoed much of the rest of the world, where many world leaders breathed sighs of relief at the election’s outcome. The president-elect has promised a restoration of normalcy and a renewed commitment to multilateralism.
Global Times noted that relief in a tweet, writing that the leaders of Canada, Britain, France, India and Germany had already congratulated Mr. Biden. “The Trump era is seeming over,” it said.
But even as Chinese propaganda signaled a new phase in U.S.-China relations, it also continued to push a narrative of American decline — a constant refrain in recent months as an increasingly wealthy and confident China has tried to market itself to the rest of the world as a viable alternative for global leadership.