China is indicating that it will not let contentious issues get in the way of the overall development of sound and stable relations with the United States.  The comments from Beijing Thursday come as the Chinese foreign minister continues a trip to the United States to prepare for an upcoming meeting between President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao.

This has not been a good week for Sino-American relations.

Both countries bristled over a naval encounter in the South China Sea.  China also is strongly protesting official American shows of support for Tibet and accusing Washington of using Tibet as an excuse to interfere in China's internal affairs.

In a regular briefing with reporters in Beijing, Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu repeated his country's position that the U.S. Navy ship "Impeccable" violated Chinese and international law.

Ma says Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi expressed "China's principled position and concern," over the incident, during a meeting Wednesday with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in Washington.

The Pentagon says the Impeccable was surrounded by five Chinese vessels that maneuvered aggressively, in a way that endangered the American ship's safety.

The Chinese government stresses that it believes the U.S. ship was engaged in unspecified illegal activities in China's economic zone.

Foreign Minister Yang also expressed China's "strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition" to a U.S. House resolution on Tibet passed Wednesday, accusing China of repression in the remote Himalayan region.

Spokesman Ma says the resolution disregards facts, makes groundless accusations against China's ethnic and religious policy and whitewashes what it considers to be the anti-China separatist activities of Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

Ma calls the legislation a serious contravention of basic norms governing international relations and says it is a flagrant interference in China's internal affairs.

Despite these conflicts, the Chinese spokesman stressed that Sino-American relations are at what he called "a new point," in which there are new opportunities to develop.

Ma says the two countries shoulder a common responsibility for the peace and development of the world.  He urges the two sides to focus on the overall shared interests and follow the principle of seeking common ground while shelving differences.

He added that, although sound and stable ties between China and the United States are conducive to world peace and stability, the maintenance of them will take what he describes as "concerted efforts" from both sides.