China yesterday congratulated US President Joe Biden on his inauguration and called for a reset in relations between Beijing and Washington after a corrosive period of diplomacy under Donald Trump.
Beijing also welcomed news that the US would rejoin the World Health Organization and the Paris climate accord, as Biden tried to immediately pivot his office back to a key role in global leadership.
The ever-antagonistic Trump harangued China over trade, rights, the origins of the Covid-19 virus, tech and defence supremacy, prompting angry near-daily jousts between both countries' diplomats.
The new US president is expected to remain tough on the superpower rival but soften after 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 spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a press briefing.
She said 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".
Beijing laid into "clown-like" Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the final hours of his tenure, before sanctioning him and more than two dozen advisors and ex-officials in the former president's administration.
The officials and their family members will be prohibited from entering mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau, the foreign ministry said.
There were still signs of tension on the horizon, however, as it emerged that a representative of the self-ruled island of Taiwan was formally invited to the US inauguration for the first time since 1979.
Hua yesterday warned that China wanted the US to "cautiously and appropriately handle Taiwan issues to prevent harm to US-China relations."
The Biden administration is expected to keep the pressure on China over trade and human rights.
Treasury secretary Janet Yellen vowed Tuesday to "take on China's abusive, unfair and illegal practices" in trade, while new Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said he stands by his predecessor's declaration that China was committing genocide against Uighurs and other mostly Muslim people in Xinjiang.
He also said he principally agrees with Trump's policy on China.