US outrage over Beijing's veto of a UN resolution aiming to end Syria bloodshed won't affect cooperation on other international issues such as Iran and North Korea, a leading Chinese diplomat said Thursday.
Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai also said next week's visit to the US by Vice President Xi Jinping – widely expected to be China's next leader – offers a chance to reduce a "trust deficit" that vividly contrasts with booming economic, cultural and educational ties between the two countries.
"Both sides, China and the United States, have come to realise the need for redoubled efforts to solve this issue and Vice President Xi's visit this time will provide a very important opportunity to further enhance our mutual trust," Cui told reporters at a briefing.
Last week's double veto by China and Russia of the resolution that would have endorsed an Arab League plan for Syria's future deeply angered the US, Europe and the Arab League. The bitter criticism directed at Beijing marred China's attempts to portray itself as a positive force for resolving global crises.
China defended the action by saying the vote was called before differences had been bridged and said it respected the norms of international relations. Russia and China, wary after watching the West help Libyan militias oust Muammar Gaddafi, reject any talk of military intervention or regime change.
Cui reiterated China's opposition to any measure that could encourage intervention by force or regime change, but sought to minimise the impact on China's global standing.
While it was natural for the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to disagree, such differences do not rule out future cooperation, he said.
"I do believe we can still cooperate because both of us want to see regional peace and stability, both of us call for a solution to this issue through dialogue," Cui said. "So I think there is still scope for cooperation between China and the United States and between other members of the Security Council on this issue."
Xi's visit is largely seen as a matter of protocol giving him greater US exposure ahead of his assuming the leadership of the ruling Communist Party in the autumn and the presidency next year. He is scheduled to meet with administration officials including President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, along with ranking members of Congress and retired political figures.
Among the issues expected to be raised in talks are legal controversies surrounding American citizens involved in business disputes in China.
Cui said those were being handled by the justice system and seemed to rule out any moves to intervene for the sake of US ties.
"Such individual cases will not affect the visit of Vice President Xi and should not be an irritant to our relationship," Cui said.