Godfrey and Simina Mistreanu, dpa
Beijing, Feb. 9, (dpa/GNA) - China has commended US President Donald Trump for a letter he has sent President Xi Jinping anticipating a "constructive relationship" between the two countries, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman said Thursday.
The leaders of the two largest economies in the world haven't spoken by phone since Trump's inauguration, though the US president has spoken to several other world leaders since then.
The White House announced Wednesday that Trump had sent Xi a letter thanking the Chinese president for his congratulations on Trump's inauguration. Trump also belatedly wished the Chinese people a "happy Lantern Festival and a prosperous Year of the Rooster."
China has received Trump's letter and commends him for it, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang.
"We attach great importance to close high-level interactions between China and the US," Lu said. "Since the inauguration of President Trump we have been having such kind of communication."
When asked about Trump failing to send Chinese New Year's greetings, Lu said journalists should not read too much into that. He said the Lantern Festival is also important.
Earlier this month, Chinese social media users and state media noticed that Trump did not offer timely official New Year's greetings to the Chinese people, as was customary for his predecessors Barack Obama and George W Bush.
The state-owned publication Global Times wrote that "Trump's failure to send Lunar New Year greetings prompts worries about Sino-US ties."
"Some Chinese [internet] users felt Trump was being disrespectful by not sending a greeting," the newspaper wrote.
Trump's daughter Ivanka and her daughter, Arabella Kushner, attended a Chinese New Year's celebration at the Chinese embassy in Washington. Later, Ivanka posted online a video of Arabella singing New Year’s greetings, which was spread widely China.
Trump has had a tense relationship with China since taking office in January. The US president has accused China of trying to manipulate its currency and has threatened to impose tariffs on Chinese imports.