China said Saturday that US politicians should cease "groundless" criticism of the country, stay out of its internal affairs and promote better relations, as the US presidential election race heats up.
"US politicians from any party should realize it is also in the interests of the US in its most basic form to treat China's development in an objective, rational way," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a statement.
They should also "stop groundless criticism of China, stop interfering in China's internal affairs and do more to promote mutual trust and cooperation between China and the US with a more responsible attitude", he added.
Hong was responding to a media query submitted seeking reaction to the just-concluded Republican National Convention and the views of the party and its presidential nominee Mitt Romney on the country.
He said China took note of the party's position on China in its platform as well as mentions of the country in Romney's speech accepting the party nomination, though refrained from direct criticism of either.
The comments were more measured than criticism Wednesday published in state media that blasted Romney, who is seeking to unseat President Barack Obama, for his stance on China.
"It is high time for him to drop the 'blame-China game' that frequently emerged on his campaign trail in the past several months," the state-run Xinhua news agency said, cautioning that the conservative candidate's rhetoric on issues including exchange rates could harm relations.
China was little mentioned in Romney's acceptance speech Thursday, but he has pledged to label it a "currency manipulator" on his first day in office.
Such a move could enable retaliatory sanctions that the Obama administration declined to take in May.
The former Massachusetts governor has also pledged to impede China's rise as a regional power in the Asia-Pacific, where the US has military alliances with Japan and South Korea.
Romney has also blasted Obama for declining to sell F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan, alleging he had "caved" in to China.
Beijing sees Taiwan as a renegade province that remains part of its territory pending reunification, by force if necessary.
Hong stressed that "promoting the sustainable, healthy and stable development of China-US relations" is good for both the Asia-Pacific region and the world at large and "is the right direction to which both parties should adhere."