China’s top foreign affairs official played down disputes with the U.S. over shipping lanes and cyberhacking, as President Barack Obama prepares to host counterpart Xi Jinping on his first state visit. State Councilor Yang Jiechi said in an interview that Xi’s trip would bolster a relationship that has weathered various disagreements in the four decades since Richard Nixon traveled to Beijing. Ties should continue to advance, even as the Obama administration considers retaliation for alleged raids on U.S. computer systems and accuses China of threatening Asia-Pacific stability by building islands in the South China Sea. “We have covered a long journey,” Yang, who oversees China’s foreign affairs, said Sept. 9 in Beijing. “There might be twists and turns and ups and downs, but the general direction of the relationship is development,” he said. “We have to make sure that the visit will be a great success. I think that’s the true feeling of the two peoples.” Xi’s visit comes during a year that has shown the countries’ growing strategic competition alongside their economic dependency, with China set to overtake Canada as the U.S.’s top trading partner. China has also found itself cast by Donald Trump and other Republican presidential candidates as an American jobs-killer after a stock market rout in Shanghai and sudden devaluation of the yuan sparked a global selloff. Naval vessels China’s challenge to U.S. dominance in the Asia-Pacific was demonstrated earlier this month by a military parade in Beijing featuring missiles designed to penetrate an aircraft carrier….