China "respects strength," and that could bode well for relations between Washington and Beijing under Donald Trump's presidency, global investor Barry Sternlicht told CNBC on Monday.
Sternlicht, founder, chairman and CEO of the $51 billion investment firm Starwood Capital Group, said on "Squawk Box" that China knows things have changed with the Trump win.
"A strong U.S. economy, regardless how it happens, is good for the Chinese," he argued, saying he's optimistic about the American economy under Trump.
Following their first post-election talk, Trump and China's president held a telephone call over the weekend, and established a "mutual respect," according to a statement from the president-elect's transition team.
Trump was highly critical of China throughout the campaign, drumming up headlines with his pledges to slap 45 percent tariffs on imported Chinese goods and to label the country a currency manipulator on his first day in office.