China's muted response to the weekend victory by Taiwan President-elect Lai Ching-te signals what some analysts see as the start of an uneasy four months before he takes office, with Beijing treading carefully before then.

Lai, from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), will not replace outgoing Tsai Ing-wen until May 20 — but Beijing has little appetite to break a delicate balance that has settled over its ties with Washington in recent months, some diplomats and analysts say.

The situation is further complicated by a looming U.S. presidential election in November, risking plenty of bipartisan pressure from candidates as foreign policy debates intensify.