China's Communist leaders have congratulated U.S. President Barack Obama on his re-election victory, even as Beijing turns its focus toward its own political transition that gets underway this week.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei told reporters that President Hu Jintao and his soon-to-be-successor, Vice President Xi Jinping, look forward to working with Obama to advance Sino-American relations.
"Maintaining a steady, healthy and stable development of China-U.S. relations serves the fundamental interests of the two countries and the two peoples as well as peace, stability and development of the Asia Pacific region and beyond," said said Hong Lei. "China is ready to work with the U.S. side, look to the future and make continuous efforts for fresh and greater progress in the building of China-U.S. cooperative partnership and deliver greater benefits to the two peoples and people of the world."
China's leaders did not publicly support either Obama or his Republican challenger Mitt Romney, both of whom vowed during the campaign to get tough on China if elected.
An editorial in the official Xinhua news agency on Tuesday expressed hope that the end of the campaign would also bring an end to what it called the "China-bashing game" of each candidate.
Another article in the Communist Party-controlled Global Times lectured Washington on the shortcomings of its electoral process. The editorial says Chinese citizens should "be wary of populism led by democracy," warning that U.S. politicians are more interested in winning votes than working for the people.
The timing of the U.S. election has highlighted China's very different political transition. The secretive, behind-the-scenes process begins Thursday with the 18th Party Congress in the heavily guarded capital, Beijing.
During the meeting, President Hu Jintao is set to transfer the position of secretary general of the Communist Party to Vice President Xi Jinping. Mr. Xi will take over early next year as president for the next decade.
A party spokesperson said Wednesday that the congress will begin early Thursday and last until November 14.