China’s President Hu Jintao has told Amierican business leaders that his country is not a military threat to the United States but an economic partner ready to help lead the world to full recovery from the deepest financial crisis in generations.
“We will remain committed to the path of peaceful development,” Mr Hu told a US-China Business Council lunch on Thursday.
“We do not engage in arms races, we are not a military threat to any country. China will never seek to dominate or pursue an expansionist policy.”
The group, made up of US business leaders whose companies have significant dealings within China, proved a far more receptive audience than the Chinese leader found an earlier meeting with politicians, where Mr Hu came under fire over China’s human rights policies and other practices from some of the harshest US congressional critics.
Mr Hu spent much of Wednesday in meetings at the White House before a state dinner there. US President Barack Obama, too, pressed him on the rights issue but said the United States should not fear China’s economic rise.
At Thursday’s lunch, Mr Hu told the business audience that while the world was returning to growth there remained many “unstabilising factors” and full recovery would be a difficult process.
China and the United States are vastly different countries with distinct cultures and traditions, he said. “It’s only normal we have some differences.”
But he said those differences, or particular incidents, should not be allowed to affect warming US-Chinese relations.
He said US and Chinese dealings should be based on “mutual respect and mutual benefits”.
Mr Hu said it was in the interests of both the United States and China to work together “to achieve a full recovery of the world economy”.