China on Thursday hailed the outgoing US President Barack Obama and said the bilateral ties made important progress during his tenure, as it braced for a likely showdown with America under the presidency of tough-talking Donald Trump.
"Like all you we are also paying close attention to the inauguration of the new US president tomorrow," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told media briefing when asked how China views the relations with US under the Trump administration starting from Friday.
The stable development of China-US relations are in the interests of two peoples, Hua said, acknowledging that some specific problems and differences between the two sides remained and should be resolved through constructive dialogue.
"We look forward to working with the new US government to continue to uphold the principles of non-confrontation, mutual respect, cooperation and win-win situation, continue to expand bilateral, regional, global and cooperation in various fields," she said, skirting any references to tensions over Trump's assertions that he would negotiate on One-China policy, address trade imbalance, currency manipulation as well as disputed South China Sea issues.
Ahead of Trump inauguration on Friday, China has called on the US to bar a Taiwanese delegation from the swearing-in ceremony which would be also attend by Chinese envoy to US.
China and the US need to be "friends and partners rather than competitors and enemies," Hua said. However, she hit out at comments by Trump's pick for commerce secretary Wilbur Ross criticism that China is indulging for excess steel and aluminium production.
She said China is a defender of free trade and pointed to Chinese President Xi Jinping appeal at World Economic Forum in Switzerland to avoid protectionism.
"Who is sincerely pushing ahead with liberalisation of trade and investment and who is exercising trade protectionism should be clear for all to see," Hua asked.
Trump vowed during his campaign that he will respond to unfair Beijing trade tactics by raising tariffs on Chinese goods by possibly imposing other penalties.
Hua, however, spoke highly of Obama tenure saying that "important progress" has been in US China ties under Obama Presidency and the two countries should move forward as partners rather than competitors.
When asked to sum how China viewed ties under Obama who relinquishes office on Friday, she said both Obama and Chinese President Xi met eight times.
Besides improving Trade, investment and people-to-people exchanges which hit new records under Obama tenure, both countries signed climate change agreement, which Trump said he would discard.
She also spoke about investment agreement, building trust between their militaries, counter-terrorism and the Iranian nuclear issue. "Important progress has been made by the two countries.
This has shown that China-US relations have strategic and overarching significance and we have more common interests than differences and when China and the US work together we can achieve a lot," Hua said.