U.S. President Donald Trump has broken the ice with Chinese President Xi Jinping in a letter that said he looked forward to working with him to develop constructive relations, although the pair haven't spoken directly since Trump took office.
The letter thanked Xi for his congratulatory note on Trump's inauguration and wished the Chinese people a prosperous Lunar New Year of the Rooster, the White House said in a statement on Wednesday.
China's Foreign ministry responded Thursday to "highly praise" Trump and reaffirm its commitment to a healthy relationship between the two countries moving forwards.
"We highly praise President Trump's festival wishes to Chairman Xi Jinping and the Chinese people," Lu Kang, spokesperson for China's Foreign ministry said in a statement.
"China is willing to work together with the U.S. to maintain the principles of no conflict or confrontation, mutual respect, cooperation and mutual benefit in order to broaden cooperation, manage differences, and promote a greater development of the healthy and sustained China-U.S. relationship," the statement said.
Trump and Xi have yet to speak directly since Trump took office on Jan. 20, although they did talk soon after Trump won the U.S. presidential election in November.
Diplomatic sources in Beijing say China has been nervous about Xi being left humiliated in the event a call with Trump goes wrong and the details are leaked to the U.S. media.