Sino-American relations are likely to face new complex and uncertain factors, but mutual respect for each other's core interests can ensure stability, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Thursday (22 December).

President-elect Donald Trump had a telephone conversation with Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen earlier this month, angering Beijing. He refused to abide by Beijing's 'one China' principle and threatened to impose tariffs on Chinese imports.

In an interview with the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily, Wang said: "But 'thick mountains could not stop the river from flowing into the sea'," quoting a Chinese poem that President Xi Jinping had cited at a US-China summit in June. It means that all rivers have to travel a winding course before reaching their final destination.

"Only if China and the United States respect each and give consideration to each other's core interests and key concerns can there be long-term, stable cooperation, and effect win-win mutual benefit," Wang added.

Although the Chinese media had favoured Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton for the US presidency, China now fears Washington may change its policy towards self-ruled Taiwan.

The disputed South China Sea can also be a source of worry for Beijing under Trump. Tensions escalated after Trump accused China of "stealing" a US underwater drone from an international waterway last week.

Wang referred to US-China ties as a "historical trend" and said the relationship cannot be strained by an individual. He said the two sides should focus on ensuring a smooth transition in relations to "open new cooperative prospects". He added that defending China's sovereignty was a "sacred mission".

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the US-China relationship is a historical trend that cannot be altered by an individual REUTERS/Greg Baker/Pool