President Xi Jinping shared his ruling philosophy with foreign and domestic journalists this week ahead of his first overseas trip as head of state, citing respect for different perspectives, mental alertness and attention to detail as the top qualities that the leader of a big country should possess.
Quoting a Chinese proverb that says "governing a big country is as delicate as cooking a small dish", Xi warned the nation's leaders to completely devote themselves to their work. He also urged them to handle their responsibilities "as if they are walking on thin ice or standing on the edge of an abyss".
Xi made the remarks in an interview on Tuesday with major media outlets from the BRICS nations - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
Xi will leave for Moscow today and has a hectic schedule. He is spending less than 48 hours in the country but will attend about 20 events.
Then he embarks on a tour of three African nations: Tanzania, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
He will also attend the BRICS summit in Durban, South Africa, on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Xi emphasised the difficult tasks facing the nation's leaders.
"Running such a big country, with so many people and such complex national conditions, we, the leaders of China, need to be fully aware of China's reality and of the aspirations of the people," he said.
Xi said that it required considerable effort to fully understand China, and that understanding could not come by simply visiting one or two places, as the country is so large and diverse.
"Thus, to get to know China, one needs to avoid the mistake of drawing conclusions based on partial information," he said.
Xi said that accumulating experience, knowledge, skills and capability through practice was essential to doing one's job well. And to that end, he emphasised that gaining work experience at the grass-roots level would help officials understand the aspirations of ordinary Chinese people.
Despite China's rapid economic expansion, Xi said, its per capita GDP remained much lower than the world average, and it still had a long way to go before it became "rich and strong".
Dismissing concerns by some foreign nations that China would seek hegemony and bully others as it becomes more powerful, Xi said China had committed to "unswervingly follow the path of peaceful development and will never seek hegemony or expansion".
Quoting a Chinese adage that says "a gentleman never goes back on his word", Xi said: "We mean what we say, and what has happened shows that China has kept its word."
He also dismissed the notion that China might copy a foreign development model.
"Just as a person won't find two identical leaves on one tree, we do not think there is one-size-fits-all model. Nor do we believe that a development model will stay the same forever," Xi said. "We will draw on the fine achievements of all civilisations, but we will not copy the development model of any other country."
Xi said that his recent advocation of achieving the "Chinese dream" won support of people "because this dream is, first and foremost, a dream shared by the 1.3 billion people of China", he said.
Commenting on his own workload, Xi said he hardly gets any time to himself.
He plans on prioritising his work, and he said the central leadership had an effective set of work mechanisms.
He also attached great importance to family life, despite having a hefty workload.
"Although I am very busy, I try to find some leisure time. Whenever there is the chance, I get together with my family."
Regarding his hobbies, Xi said he loved reading most.
He is also a sports fan and said he enjoyed swimming and mountain climbing, adding he used to play soccer and volleyball when he was young.
As the question about sports was raised by a Brazilian journalist, Xi expressed best wishes to the host of the 2014 World Cup.