China's Media Turns on the Charm Towards Joe Biden As Donald Trump's Election Prospects Diminish

China's tightly-controlled state media has given the clearest indication yet that Beijing favors Joe Biden as the next American leader after a high-ranking newspaper editor tweeted a joke about the former vice president on Thursday.

Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the hawkish Chinese Communist Party newspaper Global Times, shared a screenshot of a Twitter user's observation that the Democratic presidential candidate could "normalize" relations between the world's top two economies.

From a smart netizen:

— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) November 5, 2020

"If Biden elected, i really sure relation between China and USA gonna be normalized. Because Beijing is For-Biden City [sic]," the anonymous tweet referencing the country's former imperial palace turned museum read.

Hu, like others in his position, have remained largely silent about the Chinese leadership's preference in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. He described the Twitter user he quoted as "a smart netizen."

After President Donald Trump caused controversy on Election Day by alleging the Democrats were "trying to STEAL the Election," the Global Times chief teased his followers with a cryptic tweet suggesting the voting chaos was a "win-win" situation for Beijing.

China's across-the-board silence leading up to polling day had left observers speculating which candidate Chinese President Xi Jinping really preferred. Four more years of a disorganized Trump administration would benefit Beijing in its bid for more global influence, some argued, while others felt Biden might be more accommodating on issues such as trade and the status of Taiwan.

As of Wednesday, the Chinese government's official position on the election was one of neutrality.

"The U.S. presidential election is the country's internal affair. China doesn't take a position on it," foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters at a press conference.

But there appeared to be a slight shift in approach Thursday as reports in the United States showed President Trump's hopes of securing a second term slipping away overnight. The Associated Press reported Biden as having secured 264 Electoral College votes, just six short of the 270 required to send him to the White House. However, with states such as Arizona still under dispute, the CNN decision is more hesitant and has Biden on 253 electoral votes.

When asked about the unfolding election across the Pacific, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng said he hoped for more cooperation with the "next U.S. government."

"China's attitude toward the bilateral relations is clear and consistent," state media outlet Xinhua News Agency quoted him as saying. "Although there are differences between the two countries, they also have extensive common interests and room for cooperation."

"Maintaining and promoting healthy and steady development of bilateral relations serves the two peoples' fundamental interests and the common aspiration of the international community," Le added.

"We hope that the next U.S. government will meet China halfway; uphold the principles of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation; focus on collaboration; manage differences; and push forward bilateral ties along the right track," the minister said.

Le's remarks were later carried by other major state-owned media outlets including Global Times and China Daily.

Biden China Xi Jinping
File photo: Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shake hands with former Vice President Joe Biden (L) in Beijing, China, during a diplomatic visit on December 4, 2013. Lintao Zhang/Getty Images