Chinese officials and State media outlets on Wednesday appeared to welcome United States President Barack Obama’s election victory, calling for continued stability in bilateral relations.

In recent months, as China emerged as a key issue on the campaign trail with both Mr. Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney promising they would get tough on the trade front, bilateral ties faced strains.

Chinese analysts particularly viewed Mr. Romney's foreign policy positions warily, after he promised to label China a currency manipulator on his first day in office if he was elected.

Mr. Obama’s victory, State media and analysts said, would be welcomed in Beijing as ensuring some degree of continuity and stability. “The sustained, sound and steady development of Sino-U.S. conforms to the fundamental interests of the two countries," said Cai Mingzhao, a Communist Party of China spokesperson, adding that it "serves peace, stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region and beyond."

“We hope the new U.S. administration will continue to pursue a positive China policy,” Mr. Cai said.

President Hu Jintao in a message to Mr. Obama said ties had “made positive progress in the past four years as a result of joint efforts”, the official Xinhua news agency reported. He said both leaders “have reached consensus” on building a relationship based on mutual respect.

In a commentary, Xinhua said it hoped the new Obama administration “would set a more constructive tone in crafting its China policy”. “For four years, China-U.S. relations… has zigzagged forward,” it said, referring to arms sales to Taiwan, trade disputes and the U.S. “blatantly meddling” in territorial disputes as points of discord.

The U.S. elections evoked much interest among Chinese bloggers, particularly as the timing – a day before the opening of the Communist Party’s leadership transition congress – underscored for many the stark contrasts in the two political systems. Many comments spoke of admiration for the open and transparent democratic process. In the past one day alone, there were more than 3 million messages on the Chinese Twitter equivalent Sina Weibo discussing the U.S. election, which was the most widely talked about topic.

However, in some universities, where the charismatic Mr. Obama is particularly popular, wary authorities appeared to limit discussions of the U.S. election. In one prominent Beijing university, authorities sent a message to every student barring public gatherings on Wednesday or “group activities” relating to the election, warning of "consequences" to students.

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