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We don't want to replace US, says Dai Bingguo

Project 211

China will never replace the United States as the dominant power on the world stage, says State Councillor Dai Bingguo in a rare essay.

The release of Dai's 9,000-word article by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs comes at a time when China is under fire for its growing assertiveness in foreign policy, especially in the handling of a US-South Korean joint exercise in the Yellow Sea and disputes in the South China and East China seas.

Analysts say the essay, part of a collection elaborating on China's stance in the next five-year programme that was posted on the ministry's website, is meant for US eyes as well as to placate anxious neighbours.

'The notion that China wants to replace the United States and dominate the world is a myth,' Dai wrote. 'China's so-called strategic intent is not as complicated and abysmal as some people have imagined - as if we have some secret agenda and ambitions.' China's strategy could be encapsulated by the catchphrase of 'peaceful development', meaning focusing on its own development while co-operating peacefully with others.

Dai, China's most senior diplomat, went to South Korea late last month as South Korean-US war games led by the USS George Washington aircraft carrier began in the Yellow Sea following North Korea's shelling of Yeonpyeong Island.

Professor Shi Yinhong, an international relations specialist at Renmin University, said the essay indicated that Beijing was trying to amend some senior officials' 'improper commentaries' on Sino-US issues and military drills in the East and South China seas.

'Beijing realised that our military activities in the East and South China seas also raised concern over the 'China threat' among our neighbours in Southeast Asia, so we have to ease their worries,' Shi said.

'We found that our ambiguous attitude toward Pyongyang's bombardment of South Korea also made the US and Japan very unhappy, and now the situation has worsened and has turned into a military confrontation. Beijing doesn't want to see such a result, but it is our national policy to keep a low profile and not to cross our border.'

Dai stressed that China would not engage in an arms race, and said annual increases in its military budget were only for defending its 'core national interest' of territorial integrity. Dai also dismissed speculation that China's assertiveness is evidence of its departure from Deng Xiaoping's diplomatic doctrine of 'hide your brightness, bide your time' - tao guang yang hui - saying China would stick to the dogma.

Professor Jin Canrong, an expert in Sino-US relations at Renmin University, said Dai's article was aimed at resolving arguments about whether China needed to continue its 'peaceful development' at home. 'With the 12th five-year plan still under discussion, Dai wants to use this chance to tell them that China will still stick to the rules, whatever happens in the future.'