Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying, known for fiery retorts against the US, welcomed Biden’s first moves to join the Paris Climate Accord and the World Health Organisation (WHO) which was trashed by Trump as a puppet of China over its conduct to deal with the COVID-19.
“We express congratulations on the inauguration of President Biden. I noted many US media say this is a new day in America…After travelling an extraordinary period, we believe our two peoples deserve to embrace a better future. We hope Biden will be successful in governance,” she said.
“I noticed the word unity has been mentioned several times in his inaugural speech. This is what is urgently needed in our bilateral relations,” she said, adding that over the past four years “a handful of US politicians made so many lies and incited so much hatred and division”.
“Chinese and Americans have fallen victims to this,” she said and asked the new US administration to bring the damaged China-US ties on the right track.
“We have different social systems, development stages and historical culture. It is only natural for us to have differences. Just as Biden said democracy should allow the right to dissent and disagreement must not lead to disunion, this should also be true to international relations,” she said.
“Countries with different ideologies, social systems and culture can live in harmony and achieve the goal of common development and peace and development for the world,” she said.
On Wednesday, as the curtain came down on the Trump administration, China heaved a sigh of relief, hoping that the most torrid period in Beijing-Washington ties will have some cooling period.
Biden, who in his inaugural speech mainly focussed on forging unity at home, did not mention China even once, in sharp contrast to Trump but did not offer any clear signals to fix the damaged ties, official media here reported.
Trump’s four years in power were regarded as the worst phase in China-US relations as the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) headed by President Xi Jinping struggled to deal with what China’s officials say is the most elusive and unpredictable American leader ever.
During his tenure, Trump, a Republican, pushed aggressively on all aspects of US-China ties, including with his relentless trade war, challenging China’s military hold on the disputed South China Sea, its constant threats to Taiwan and branding coronavirus as “China virus” after it emerged from Wuhan in December 2019 as well as Xinjiang and Tibet issues.
Minutes after Biden was sworn in as the new President, China imposed sanctions against former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo and 27 others associated with the previous Trump administration for promoting and executing “crazy moves”, which “gravely” undermined its interests.
The sanctions were largely symbolic but highlight China’s anger and contempt for them.
“These individuals and their immediate family members are prohibited from entering the mainland, Hong Kong and Macao of China. They and companies and institutions associated with them are also restricted from doing business with China,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a press release, announcing the sanctions.
In her lengthy answer to China’s response to change of guard in Washington, Hua said on Thursday that “Biden also mentioned Americans have much to heal and much to restore. This is also the same to China-US relations”.
“In the past four years, the US administration, especially Pompeo, has laid too many mines that need to be removed, burned too many bridges that need to be rebuilt and damaged too many roads that need to be restored,” she said.
“The two sides should show courage and wisdom. We need to heed and listen to each other with respect,” she said and hoped that “better angels” from two sides will “surely defeat the evil forces”.
While China looks to warm up to Biden, it is not going to be easy for Beijing as his Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken has identified the rising and assertive China as a major national security threat to America.
America needs to approach the challenge from a “position of strength, not weakness,” Blinken said during his confirmation hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
China seeks to become the dominant world power and undermine American interests, he said.
“I think what we’ve seen in recent years, particularly since the rise of Chinese President Xi Jinping as leader, has been that the hiding and biding has gone away,” he was quoted as saying by the Hong-Kong based South China Morning Post.
“I also believe that President Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China,” he told the Senate committee hearing.
“I disagree very much with the way that he went about it in a number of areas, but the basic principle was the right one, and I think that’s actually helpful to our foreign policy,” Blinken said.