The Chinese government on Monday congratulated Mexico's new president, Enrique Peña Nieto, and expressed hope that progress would continue to be made in bolstering strategic bilateral relations.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei opened his daily press conference by welcoming Mexico's Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, back to power after a 12-year absence.

"China has always given much importance to its relationship of friendship and cooperation with Mexico," Hong said.

Outgoing President Hu Jintao sent National People's Congress vice chairman Lu Yongxiang to represent China at Peña Nieto's inauguration last Saturday, Hong said.

China and Mexico, which are celebrating the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations this year, have been engaged in intense bilateral exchanges for several months.

Former Mexican Agriculture Secretary Francisco Javier Mayorga visited Beijing in late October in an effort to promote imports of pork and tequila.

Mayorga, who signed a bilateral cooperation agreement covering fisheries and aquaculture, told Efe at the time that his visit had been "positive" and Mexico was seeking to export more meat, agricultural and other products to China. EFE