By Don Durfee
BEIJING (Reuters) - China is ready to work with the United States to advance military ties, a defense ministry spokesman said Thursday, following a U.S. trip by China's vice president that featured a visit with top Pentagon officials.
The comments, posted on the ministry's website, signaled a wary optimism from China's military, which typically takes a harder stance toward the United States than other parts of the Chinese government.
"We are ready to work with the U.S. side, by observing the principles of mutual respect, trust, equality and mutual benefits," said Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng.
China has suspended military-military exchanges with the U.S. several times in the past. In September, China said it would cancel or postpone such exchanges after Washington said it would upgrade Taiwan's fleet of F-16 fighter jets.
Beijing regards Taiwan as a renegade province.
Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, who is expected to assume power from President Hu Jintao in just over a year, visited the United States last week, where he met with President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, among others.
The visit was aimed at getting both sides more familiar with each other for the decade that Xi could be in power.
In recent months, the U.S. has embarked on a major strategic shift to focus on Asia-Pacific as it turns away from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. China is concerned Washington's new posture is aimed at encircling it and could limit its growing power.
(Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)