Chinese analysts believe US President Barack Obama has made the Sino-US relationship "softer" rather than "tense," as the US commander-in-chief prepared to make a farewell speech in Chicago for his eight-year tenure.
"Though Obama has taken a relatively tough stance against China in the last two years, without him, China would have faced a more challenging US side," said Liu Weidong, a research fellow at the Institute of American Studies of the China Academy of Social Sciences.
Although Obama visited China in less than a year after assuming office in January 2009, the charming relationship between the two countries was followed by ups and downs.
His personal appeal earned him a good reputation in the world's most populous nation compared to many of his predecessors who took a tough stance on China.
Since 2010, when the US government put forward the regional strategy dubbed "Pivot to East Asia," China often became the butt of accusations made by the US, ranging from cyber attacks on the US to freedom of navigation in South China Sea.
Obama's tenure also witnessed President Xi Jinpingtaking over from Hu Jintao, but China's reaction toward the changing US policy remained restrained, said Jin Canrong, associate dean of the Department of International Studies at the Renmin University of China.
"There were strategic confrontations between the two countries, but also successful dialogues when Obama was at the helm," Jin told the Global Times.
The upgraded high-level US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue has been held annually and strengthened the ties in many aspects.
"Generally speaking, the Sino-US relations didn't suffer any drastic change during the Obama administration," Jin noted, adding that the discord between the White House and the Pentagon also had an impact on the bilateral ties of the two most influential countries.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim countries, notably not including China, was regarded as a flaw of the Obama administration by Sun Chenghao, assistant research fellow at the Institute of American Studies of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.
"The US should be more open-minded," Sun said. "It would have been better if the Obama administration had adopted a more strategic policy toward China rather than just finding solutions to problems."
The US' plan to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile defense system on the Korean Peninsula has also caused huge concerns in the neighboring countries of China and Russia.
But Obama's commitment to revising the US climate policy and coordination in nuclear negotiations over Iran also won positive reactions from China, highlighted by a successful Paris Agreementsigned in April 2016 and Iran nuclear deal in July 2015.
During Obama's eight-year tenure, the Global Times polls have shown that a large majority of the Chinese people view the Sino-US ties as the most important bilateral relationship in the world.
Experts believe that Obama's successor, President-elect Donald Trump, will create more thorny issues for China after assuming power next week.