China Echoes Biden’s Call for ‘Unity’ in Bid to Reset Relations
(Bloomberg) -- China said it hoped Joe Biden would “be successful in governing” and called for unity in a bid to reset relations with the U.S., the day after leveling last-minute sanctions on members of the outgoing Trump administration as the new U.S. president was sworn in.
“After a difficult and extraordinary period, we believe our two peoples deserve to embrace a better future,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily briefing in Beijing on Thursday, congratulating Biden on his inauguration. “I noticed the word unity mentioned several times in his inaugural speech, this is urgently needed in our bilateral relations.”
The Trump administration “laid so many mines that need to be removed, burned so many bridges that need to be rebuilt, and ruined so many roads need to be restored when it comes to China-U.S. relations,” Hua said. Still, while she said the two countries should now listen to each other and display mutual respect, she cautioned that Beijing would “take firm measures to fight back” against actions that undermined its sovereignty and interests.
During Biden’s inauguration Wednesday, Beijing announced sanctions against 28 Americans, including outgoing Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and other Donald Trump aides for their roles in pushing anti-China policies. A spokeswoman for Biden’s National Security Council called the move “unproductive” and said it appeared to be a bid to sow partisan divides in the U.S.
The sanctions “on these U.S. people are a response to their wrongdoing that undermines China’s sovereignty, security and development interests,” Hua said. “It is legitimate and necessary, and shows our firm determination to uphold own national interests.”
The move hit back at an administration it had fought on fronts ranging from trade to the handling of Covid-19, while leaving a door open for warmer ties with the Biden camp. China had also earlier this week urged “mutual respect” with the new administration.
The sanctions were “perhaps a little parting shot at the Trump administration, but really will have no impact,” Gary Locke, a former U.S. Ambassador to China, told Bloomberg TV on Thursday. “It’s not going to affect President Biden’s commitment to having candid but more constructive dialogue with China, along with all the other world leaders.”
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