China not a threat to world, Wen says
China is not seeking hegemony and never will, Premier Wen Jiabao said in New York in an apparent response to widespread concerns about Beijing's growing global clout, especially on the military front.
In a meeting with New York-based Chinese overseas media and Hong Kong reporters on Wednesday, Wen said his key mission while attending the United Nations General Assembly would be to try to ease the outside world's concerns about the 'China threat'.
'Some Western countries do have a certain degree of vigilance about China's development, with the so-called 'China threat theory' being one of the symbols,' he said. 'I will focus on answering this question at the assembly to let [the world] realise the real face of China in a correct way. One of my key arguments is that China will unswervingly follow the road of peaceful development.'
He said China still had a long way to go to reach the goal of becoming a rich country because of its 1.3 billion people and the wide gap between urban and rural areas.
'We may pass Japan to become the second-biggest economy in the world. However, we should realise that we have a big population ... under the UN standard, 150 million Chinese people still live under the poverty level, [our government] might need years to solve that,' Wen said.
'We always remind ourselves that we should focus on our own business because it will help one-fifth of the world's population get rich.'
Citing the example of Zheng He's adventurous trip to the West more than six centuries ago, Wen said Chinese traditionally loved to share products and friendships with foreign friends and had never invaded other countries.
'China has been a victim of imperialist aggression and peace did not come easily. We realise independence and sovereignty are vital to a country's dignity and the roots of its people,' he said. 'The Chinese people treasure peace ... we don't occupy one inch of land of other nations, neither do we flaunt military power.'
Wen's response was apparently aimed at easing tensions with China's neighbours as well as the United States and Japan.
Sino-US ties have been stuck in a rut since July when the US held joint military drills with South Korea in the Yellow Sea. Beijing said the war games were taking place on the doorstep of 'China's political and economic heartland', but the US and South Korea said the exercises were intended as a warning to North Korea over its involvement in the sinking of a South Korean warship in March.
The People's Liberation Army subsequently conducted a string of military drills from late June to last month, including a five-day drill, based on the scenario of defending Beijing, in Shandong and Henan , a live-ammunition joint military exercise in the East China Sea, a supply drill in the Yellow Sea, and three joint fleet exercises in the South China Sea.