Chinese media keeps mum as presidential race unfolds in US
Despite the fact that the last four years of the Trump administration has roiled relations between Washington and Beijing, in China, coverage of the election in the United States has been muted.
In the run-up to election day, Chinese state media have been restrained in their coverage of the presidential race, focusing mainly on the possibility of election unrest or problems with American politics.
On Chinese social media platforms, where discussions on US President Donald Trump had for months been top trending topics, discussions on the election seemed contained in the days leading up to Nov 3.
The "US election" topic was only the 11th top discussed issue on micro-blogging site Weibo, below discussions on Washington's exit from the Paris Climate agreement, which ranked second.
Washington officially exited the global climate deal on Wednesday (Nov 4), a year after Mr Trump said the country would do so.
Chinese government censors hold considerable influence over discussions on Chinese social media platforms, and can promote or diminish the prominence of certain topics.
On the other hand, while Chinese leaders are no doubt watching closely who would win the race to the White House, state media outlets have kept from criticising either American candidate in the days leading up to the election.
In an editorial late on Tuesday night, nationalist tabloid Global Times instead attacked the US political system, pointing to the possibility of post-election riots and the fact that the party has been torn apart by "two forces fighting for their own interests".
"The election mechanism of the US has been riddled with loopholes, filled with, implicitly or explicitly, individual or collective interests of political parties and elites," said the newspaper.
State news agency Xinhua also carried reports of shopfronts being boarded up in anticipation of possible looting. It carried an article titled "Anxiety, pandemic prelude US Election Day as candidates make final push" as Americans headed to the polls on Nov 3.
Experts have said Beijing is taking a cautious tack in order not to be accused of influencing the results of the election or of preferring a certain candidate.
Shining a light on the possibility of political unrest in America or a constitutional crisis in the event of a contested election also has the benefit of shoring up confidence in China's political system.
Chinese Academy of Social Sciences research fellow Lu Xiang had said that Chinese media outlets and commentators were reluctant to report too much on the US election as they did not want to be "used by US political forces as examples of China meddling in the US election".