President assures neighbours over China's rise
President Hu Jintao told regional leaders at the Boao Forum yesterday that China would stick to peaceful development and its opening-up policy amid concerns over the impact of its rise on regional development.
In a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the regional forum in Hainan province , Mr Hu said Asia was facing 'serious challenges' to lasting peace and prosperity. But he believed it 'remains one of the world's most dynamic regions'.
The three-day Boao Forum is the most important foreign affairs event for the Chinese president so far this year and Mr Hu used the opportunity yesterday to call on Asian countries to step up co-operation, including speeding up regional free-trade talks, tackling climate change and deepening political trust.
'We should seek common ground and shelve differences and live in harmony on the basis of mutual respect and equality,' he said. On the economic front, he called for the promotion of free trade and the furthering of regional fiscal and financial co-operation.
He also emphasised the need to 'oppose terrorism in all manifestations and strengthen co-operation in counter-terrorism and non-proliferation', while also highlighting other challenges such as drug trafficking, disaster prevention and public health.
Amid rising concerns over China's dominance in Asia and its relations with other global stakeholders, Mr Hu said regional co-operation should remain 'non-exclusive', with dialogue and co-operation with other regions welcomed.
China has come under increasing criticism from the international community for its policy towards developing countries, with critics saying its huge financial assistance to Africa is tantamount to developing 'colonial relations' in order to tap the area's rich oil and gas resources.
To allay these fears, Mr Hu emphasised that China would accommodate 'the legitimate concerns of other countries, developing countries in particular' and strive for a path of peaceful development.
'China does not interfere in other countries' internal affairs, nor does it try to impose its own will on others. China is committed to peaceful settlement of international disputes and follows a defence policy that is defensive in nature,' he said.
'China will never seek hegemony or expansion.'
At the same time, he said China would remain committed to international affairs and would take up its fair share of responsibility. China had sent more than 10,000 peacekeepers to 22 United Nations peacekeeping operations, he said.
With this year marking the 30th anniversary of China's 'open-door' policy, Mr Hu hailed the country's achievements and pledged that the nation would continue opening up - a strategy which he said had brought about 'historic changes' in China's relations with the rest of the world.
'There is no ready or unchanging path or model of development that suits all countries in the world,' he said, stressing that the country's development should keep in line with its 'national conditions'.
Mr Hu said the past three decades had shown that China could not develop in isolation from the world, and the world could not enjoy prosperity or stability without China.
'China's future is more closely linked with the future of the world than ever before,' he said, adding that the 'trend towards multipolarity is irreversible'.