Seeking to allay growing apprehensions about China’s rapid rise, its new leader Xi Jinping said on Tuesday that his country will not “harm” neighbours nor it will grow at the expense of other nations but would be assertive about its territorial claims and “core interests”.
“China will never pursue development at the cost of sacrificing other country’s interests. We will never benefit ourselves at others’ expense or do harm to any neighbour,” Xi said in his first foreign policy speech after getting elected as the General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) succeeding Hu Jintao.
Besides taking over as head of the CPC, Xi also became the head of China’s 2.3 million-strong People’s Liberation Army (PLA). He is set to take over as President in March when Hu retires.
Taking part in a study session with members of the 25- member newly elected Party’s Political Bureau, Xi, 59 said China will unswervingly pursue peaceful development, push forward joint development, maintain the multilateral trade system and participate in global economic governance.
Xi’s comments came at the time of heightened tensions between Beijing and most of its neighbours over boundary disputes.
China is currently bogged down with maritime boundary issues with Japan and most of its South East Asian neighbours over the boundaries of South China Sea, while it looked to improve ties with India with a host of bilateral initiatives keeping the disputed borders peaceful.
China has also expressed it’s apprehension about abut the new US Asia-Pacific push by deploying majority of its military assets in the region.
In his address, Xi sought to dispel fears that China pursued aggressive policy to stake its claims over the disputes but at the same time asserted the Beijing will not be giving up its claims over the disputed territories.
“We will stick to the road of peaceful development, but will never give up our legitimate rights and will never sacrifice our national core interests,” he said.
“No country should presume that we will engage in trade involving our core interests or that we will swallow the ‘bitter fruit’ of harming our sovereignty, security or development interests,” Xi said.