China says its economic prudence will keep it immune from the tidal wave of economic problems sweeping across the rest of Asia. Foreign Ministry spokesman Shen Guofang said China would 'not be affected' by the contagion effect in neighbouring countries because its fiscal policies had carefully sought to avoid similar instability. His comments came as President Jiang Zemin spoke glowingly of China's future as a major trading nation, which, he said, 'will promise a bigger market and greater opportunities to the rest of the world.' In a keynote speech to a $US700-per-head Apec dinner hosted by the city of Vancouver, Mr Jiang said: 'The situation in China today is excellent. 'Our objective is to build China into a prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and modernised country.' In an address aimed at fostering China's image as business-friendly and an advocate of the free trade Apec seeks to promote, Mr Jiang added: 'As required by reform and development, we will continue to open the market steadily, speed up the process of opening up infrastructures such as energy and communications, and open up the service sector such as banking and insurance with measured steps. 'We will also further improve the trade and investment environment and create conditions for equal competition between Chinese and foreign enterprises by protecting the rights of foreign enterprises and by giving them national treatment.' In his comments on Asia's economic problems, Mr Shen said: 'We are very carefully studying the root causes of the current financial crisis in the region. 'We have always tried our best to avoid this kind of situation. 'We have always stressed efforts to find a road to development suitable to China's conditions. In the course of our reform and opening, China has always been prudent in opening up its capital and financial markets to the outside world.' Mr Jiang, whose appearance at the dinner sparked protests from about 200 demonstrators outside the hotel where he was speaking, discussed Asia's problems at several bilateral meetings yesterday, including during talks with Thai Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai and Australian Prime Minister John Howard. Meanwhile, in a meeting with Foreign Minister Qian Qichen , US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright raised concerns over the bilateral trade imbalance and again pressed for greater market access for US goods. She agreed to speed up negotiations with China on the World Trade Organisation impasse.