China calls for 'better angels' to prevail in reset with Biden's US

Beijing sanctions Pompeo and 27 other Trump aides; Washington calls China's move 'unproductive'

BEIJING • China yesterday congratulated President Joe Biden on his inauguration and called for a reset in relations between Beijing and Washington, as the new administration brought an end to the fractious term of Mr Donald Trump.

Beijing also said it welcomed news that the US would rejoin the World Health Organisation and the Paris climate accord, as Mr Biden tried to immediately pivot his office back to a key role in global leadership.

The new US President is expected to remain tough on China but commit to international cooperation after Mr Trump's divisive "America First" approach.

"With cooperation from both sides, the better angels in China-US relations will beat the evil forces," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying told a press briefing.

She said Mr Biden had used the word "unity" several times in his inauguration speech, and that it was "precisely what is needed currently in US-China relations".

Under Mr Trump, tensions with China plunged to a nadir over trade, security, technology, the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic and human rights.

In a final dig at the Trump administration, Beijing said on Wednesday it was sanctioning more than two dozen members and former officials in the former president's government, including his secretary of state Mike Pompeo.

The officials and their family members will be prohibited from entering mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau, the Foreign Ministry said. The ban also restricts companies associated with them from doing business in China.

"Over the past few years the Trump administration, especially Pompeo, has buried too many mines in US-China relations that need to be eliminated, burned too many bridges that need to be built, and destroyed too many roads that need to be repaired," said Ms Hua yesterday.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for President Biden's National Security Council (NSC) said China's move to sanction former Trump administration officials was "unproductive and cynical", and urged Americans from both parties to condemn the action.

China announced sanctions against "lying and cheating" Mr Pompeo and 27 other top officials under Mr Trump around the time Mr Biden was sworn in as president on Wednesday.

China's Foreign Ministry said Mr Pompeo and the others had "planned, promoted and executed" moves that had interfered in its internal affairs.

"Imposing these sanctions on Inauguration Day is seemingly an attempt to play to partisan divides," Mr Biden's NSC spokesman Emily Horne said in a statement to Reuters. "Americans of both parties should criticise this unproductive and cynical move. President Biden looks forward to working with leaders in both parties to position America to out-compete China," she said.

Mr Pompeo, who unleashed a barrage of measures against China in his final weeks in office, declared on Tuesday that China had committed "genocide and crimes against humanity" against Uighur Muslims.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 22, 2021, with the headline 'China calls for 'better angels' to prevail in reset with Biden's US'. Subscribe