China was still a developing nation, Premier Li Keqiang said yesterday amid international concerns that the rising economic power is challenging the United States. Observers say Li's remarks signal that although China is poised to take a more active part in international affairs, its priority will be on internal development rather than setting a new international order. Li said China was already engaged in many international affairs and denied that it was a "free rider". But China's per capita gross domestic product was 80th in the world and many people still struggled to make ends meet, the premier said. "China still has 200 million people living in poverty based on the standard of the World Bank, and China is still a developing nation," Li said in response to a question on whether China was competing with the US as a leading power. "China needs to run its own affairs well and maintain its development at a reasonable speed. I believe that, in itself, is China's major contribution to the whole world." For all the latest news from China’s parliamentary sessions click here On the Sino-US relationship, the premier said the two nations should continue to foster ties based on the principle of mutual respect and no conflict and confrontation. "There are differences between China and the US. But what's more important is that the two countries share extensive common interests," Li said. China Foreign Affairs University professor Su Hao said Li's comments indicated that China would focus its energies on resolving its development issues. "It means that China has no intention to challenge anyone in the world," Su said. Renmin University international relations professor Shi Yinhong said China was fencing off calls for it to play a more prominent role in global affairs. "Li's remarks mean that China's capacity is still limited and not to expect China to do more," Shi said.