Communist Party chief Xi Jinping said China would never waive its legitimate rights on the international stage but vowed that the nation would stick to its peaceful development path.
Xi made the comment as relations between Beijing and Tokyo remained strained amid a territorial dispute over a group of islands in the East China Sea.
Xi's remarks also came as hawkish Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for a high-level bilateral summit and former Japanese prime minister Tomiichi Murayama continued his China tour, meeting Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Politburo member Li Yuanchao .
A member of Murayama's delegation said Li expressed concern that some Japanese politicians had rejected an important speech made by Murayama as Japanese prime minister in 1995, when he said Japan had caused tremendous damage to the people of many countries.
Speaking at a Politburo study session on Monday, Xi said China would never pursue development by harming other countries' interests, Xinhua reported yesterday.
Xi added that other countries should also follow this development path.
"We will never sacrifice our core national interests," he said. "No country should presume that we will compromise over our core interests, or that we will swallow the 'bitter fruit' of harming our sovereignty, security or development interests."
Both China and Japan have stepped up diplomatic efforts to ease tensions over the disputed Diaoyu Islands, known as the Senkakus in Japan.
Natsuo Yamaguchi, the head of New Komeito, part of Japan's governing coalition, said when wrapping up his China tour last week that Xi would seriously consider a high-level bilateral summit if there was a proper environment for such a meeting.
Another former Japanese prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, also visited China earlier this month, paying his respects to the victims of the Nanking massacre.
Abe, in a television interview yesterday, said a "high-level summit should be held to restore bilateral ties if necessary".
In remarks that suggested that Beijing did not want an armed clash with Tokyo, a senior People's Liberation Army officer said yesterday that China would never initiate maritime conflict.
"China will not provoke maritime confrontations. Global security is facing a lot of problems and China believes that peaceful dialogue is the best way to settle disputes," Lieutenant General Qi Jianguo , deputy chief of general staff of the PLA, said in a meeting with a delegation led by Rick Larsen, of the Congressional US-China Working Group.