BEIJING, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- Jon Huntsman, the U.S. Ambassador to China, defended Washington's decision to sell arms to Taiwan, which enraged Beijing, Chinese media reported.
The ambassador said last week's announcement of the $6.4 billion sale by the Obama administration, which has generated a barrage of protests, threats and warnings from China, "should not be a surprise," as there had been plenty of discussion beforehand, China Daily reported.
Huntsman also said the sale would need to be approved by the U.S. Congress.
China Daily reported Huntsman's comments Tuesday came during a meeting with a dozen "carefully selected representatives" of the Chinese media. It said the meeting was the latest U.S. attempt to "repair bilateral relations that have been severely damaged" by the arms sales.
The newspaper said during his nearly 40-minute interview, Huntsman highlighted the positive aspects of bilateral cooperation between the two countries.
"The last year has been properly spent, building confidence and relations," Huntsman said, adding disputes are common in any big bilateral relationship. "We all know there have been a few challenges, a few areas of disagreement, but we should stick to the bigger picture of bilateral relations always being important."
The official Chinese news agency Xinhua quoted Huntsman as saying the U.S.-China relationship "is the most complex and important relationship in the world today with many facets of relationship and many points of connection between the United States and China."
He said the bilateral relationship has improved with President Obama in office the past year. "Despite our differences, we will stay focused on the big picture between the United States and China," Huntsman said.