BEIJING, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- China welcomed the appointment of Iowa Governor Terry Branstad as the future U.S. ambassador to Beijing on Wednesday, while criticizing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's decision to visit Pearl Harbor in late December.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters on Wednesday that the government approves of President-elect Donald Trump's choice for the top diplomatic position, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.
"As a longtime friend of the Chinese people Governor Branstad appears poised to play a greater role in advancing Sino-U.S. relations," Lu said Wednesday. "The U.S. ambassador to China plays a very important bridge role between the U.S. and Chinese governments, and no matter who is in this position, we want to work with that person to continue to pursue the healthy, stable development of U.S.-China relations."
Branstad is on friendly terms with Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to the report.
The two politicians first met in 1985, when Xi visited as a leader of a delegation from Hebei Province, a northern region that encircles Beijing.
Branstad also received a special visit from Xi in Muscatine, Iowa, during the Chinese leader's state visit in February 2012, and the two met again in China in June of the same year.
But the foreign ministry expressed less favorable views of a Tokyo decision to visit Pearl Harbor, the target of a surprise Japanese military strike during World War II.
Lu said Abe should not ignore Japan's impact on China in history, and said the Japanese leader should also visit the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall, which was built near a site where thousands of bodies were buried.
More than 300,000 civilians and unarmed Chinese soldiers were killed in Nanjing, according to Chinese estimates.
"Japanese militarism seriously damaged the people of many Asian nations," Lu said. "Japan should correct its historical attitude and give accurate recognition of crimes against humanity committed by Japanese militarists."