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BEIJING: China on Thursday 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 the tone and commit to international cooperation 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".

"The recent period has indeed been especially difficult," she added.

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.

"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 Hua on Thursday.

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