Sino-US ties will remain strong
Chinese President Hu Jintao used one of his last official conversations with US counterpart George W. Bush to voice confidence that bilateral ties would remain strong, the foreign ministry here said.
Hu made the remark while talking to Bush by telephone late Sunday local time, a little more than a fortnight before president-elect Barack Obama moves into the White House.
"In a new historical period, China and the United States will definitely be able to stick firmly to the overall direction of a relationship characterised by constructive cooperation," said Hu.
"This will help develop a Sino-US relationship that is healthy and stable, comprehensive and deep," he said, without being quoted as directly referring to the upcoming power transfer in Washington.
Analysts have speculated that Obama will toughen the US stance on China's economic practices and especially push for a further strengthening of the Chinese currency.
China has allowed its currency to strengthen gradually since it was de-linked from the US dollar in mid-2005. However, critics say it is not happening at a fast enough pace, giving Chinese exporters an unfair advantage.
In Sunday's telephone call, Bush also informed Hu of a decision to call off a China trip originally scheduled this week for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the Chinese foreign ministry said in a separate statement.
The US State Department has said Rice called off the visit so that she could focus on Israel's offensive in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, which was carried out in response to rocket attacks from the Palestinian territory into Israel.
China understood the decision and welcomed a US decision to have Rice's deputy, John Negroponte, travel to Beijing instead, the foreign ministry statement said.
Rice and her Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi held a separate conversation on Monday, Xinhua said, during which Yang expressed China's "deep concern" over Palestinians affected by the Israeli offensive.
He also repeated an earlier Chinese call for a negotiated settlement to the conflict.