SHANGHAI - U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday he hoped for improved China-Taiwan ties and said economic links had helped lower tensions over Taiwan.

I have been clear in the past the United States supports a one-China policy ... we don't want to change that policy or approach, he said. Through dialogue and communications problems can be solved.

He didn't answer a question on arms sales to Taiwan.

Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, but remains the island's main arms supplier.

China curtailed contacts with the U.S. military until recently to show its anger over U.S. military sales to Taiwan, the self-ruled democratic island Beijing has claimed sovereignty over since their split in 1949 amid civil war.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle and Caren Bohan; Writing by Chris Buckley; Editing by Jerry Norton and Jeremy Laurence)