by Xinhua writers Li Zhihui, Xu Xiaoqing
BEIJING, March 17 (Xinhua) -- Premier Li Keqiang said Sunday that China is committed to maintaining peace and stability in the Asian-Pacific region and the whole world, pledging stronger ties with major powers, including the U.S. and Russia.
China is capable of achieving sustainable economic development and a stronger China will not seek hegemony, Li said at a press conference held after the annual session of the national legislature concluded Sunday.
"There are more than 1.3 billion people in China and we are still on a long journey towards modernization. That requires an international environment of lasting peace," he said. "Even if China becomes stronger, we will not seek hegemony," the premier said in response to concerns from overseas.
China has an unswerving commitment to peaceful development and an unshakable determination to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity, Li said.
When talking about China-U.S. relations, Li said the Chinese government is committed to maintaining strong relations between the world's largest and second-largest economies, despite differences that are not necessarily inevitable,
"More opportunities in trade and investment between China and the United States might emerge in the years to come," he said, citing the rapid growth in annual bilateral trade volume from only 1 billion U.S. dollars three decades ago to more than 500 billion U.S. dollars last year.
"I don't believe conflicts between big powers are inevitable," Li said. "Shared interests often override disputes."
When asked about Sino-Russian relations, Li said more practical cooperation is needed and both sides should leverage their economic integrity.
He said he hopes bilateral trade can increase rapidly from the current level of about 80 billion U.S. dollars a year.
Both China and Russia should join hands to more than double their bilateral trade in the years to come, Li said.
China has been working with its neighbors to advance mutually beneficial cooperation and take such cooperation to a new level by joining respective strengths so as to make peaceful development and cooperation an irresistible trend, Li said.
His remarks echoed President Xi Jinping's pledge that China will adhere to a road of peaceful development, as well as a policy of mutually beneficial cooperation.
We will raise the banner of peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit, Xi said Sunday at the closing ceremony of the first session of the 12th National People's Congress.
"China is devoted to friendly cooperation with all nations in the world and will also fulfill its due international responsibilities and duties," Xi said.
Experts said that although the concept of "peaceful development" is not new among Chinese leaders, China's steady economic rise still causes anxiety among some countries.
Defense expenditures, the Diaoyu Islands sovereignty dispute, the nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula and Sino-U.S. relations all became the focus of media attention during course of China's annual legislative meeting held over the last two weeks, said Wu Xinbo, deputy director of the International Relations and Public Fairs Department of Fudan University.
"It is understandable for some world leaders to have some fears, as China has risen rapidly in recent years. But they are too worried. China's policy of peaceful development is a consistent strategy," he said.
In the past, tensions between major powers often occurred alongside the rise of a new economy, but this will not be the case for China, as its sustainable development needs a peaceful and stable environment, Wu said.
A new type of relations between major countries as advocated by China indicates that the country is ready to engage the world in a friendly and active way.
This new type of relations between China and other major powers such as the U.S. needs to be based on mutual respect and aimed at producing win-win results through cooperation, he said.
"Both sides should care about each other's core interests and concerns," he said.
China will not engage in military competition with the U.S., he said. "In addition to the the Asian-Pacific region, the two countries also have more common interests in Africa and the Middle East."
A peace-loving China will not hesitate to take necessary action when its core interests are infringed upon, he said.
Despite value differences and misunderstandings, the west should engage China more and a new strategic roadmap between China and the United States should be developed, as both sides have more in common than it seems, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Michael Rudd said in an recent interview with Xinhua.
There are obstacles to remove, according to Rudd, adding that labeling China as a global economic risk does not reflect reality, as labels cannot help anyone solve global economic and security issues.
Because China is in a period of transition, it is now time for engagement. "The U.S. and the west often expect China to take the initiative, but engagement must come from western and other powers as well," he said.