(Reuters) - The United States should not let friction over economic and trade policies undermine the hugely important business relationship with China, Vice President Xi Jinping said in an interview published before a scheduled U.S. visit.
Xi, widely viewed as China's president-in-waiting, told the Washington Post via written answers to questions that China was of huge economic benefit to the United States.
"As economic globalization gathers momentum, China and the United States have become highly inter-dependent economically," Xi said, according to a transcript posted on the newspaper's website on Monday.
"Such economic relations would not enjoy sustained, rapid growth if they were not based on mutual benefit or if they failed to deliver great benefits to the United States," he said.
"The Americans who know the real picture of China-U.S. economic relations, including those in the business community, will echo this point."
U.S. politicians have repeatedly criticized China for artificially keeping its yuan currency undervalued to boost exports, for ignoring intellectual property rights and for unfairly subsidizing certain industries like solar power.
Xi, who visits the United States this week, repeated China's commitment to reforming the currency's exchange rate.
"We will continue to press ahead with the reform of the RMB exchange rate formation mechanism and offer foreign investors a fair, rule-based and transparent investment environment," he said.
"At the same time, we hope the United States will take substantive steps as soon as possible to ease restrictions on high-tech exports to China and provide a level playing field for Chinese enterprises to invest in the United States," Xi said.
"Frictions and differences are hardly avoidable in our economic and trade interactions. What is important is that we properly handle these differences through coordination based on equality, mutual benefit, mutual understanding and mutual accommodation. We must not allow frictions and differences to undermine the larger interests of our business cooperation."
China and the United States have also argued over regional issues such as the disputed South China Sea. U.S. moves to base more military personnel and equipment in the region have ruffled Chinese feathers too, something to which Xi alluded.
"At a time when people long for peace, stability and development, to deliberately give prominence to the military security agenda, scale up military deployment and strengthen military alliances is not really what most countries in the region hope to see," he said.
"The vast Pacific Ocean has ample space for China and the United States. We welcome a constructive role by the United States in promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the region. We also hope that the United States will fully respect and accommodate the major interests and legitimate concerns of Asia-Pacific countries," Xi said.
But Xi added he was confident the Chinese and American people wanted to be friends, and spoke of his fondness for U.S. basketball, a sport that is widely watched in China.
"NBA games are exciting to watch and have global appeal. They are very popular in China. I do watch NBA games on television when I have time," he said.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Ken Wills and Paul Tait)