SYDNEY - Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday vowed never to use force to achieve Beijing's goals, including in maritime disputes, just days after US President Barack Obama warned of the dangers of outright conflict in Asia.
In an address to the Australian parliament, Xi said his giant and developing nation needed peace, noting that history showed no-one ever benefited from conflict.
"A review of history shows that countries that attempted to pursue development with force invariably failed," he said in a lengthy address in which he also reminisced about kangaroos and koala encounters during previous visits to Australia.
"This is what history teaches us. China is dedicated to upholding peace. Peace is precious and needs to be protected." But he added: "We must always be on high alert against the factors that may deprive us of peace." Beijing is locked in disputes with four Southeast Asian countries over lonely outcrops in the South China Sea, and with Japan over another set of islets.
The leaders of the US, Australia and Japan on Sunday called for peaceful resolutions of the maritime disputes. The day before, Obama had warned of "disputes over territory - remote islands and rocky shoals - that threaten to spiral into confrontation".
Xi said Monday he was open to dialogue.
"It is China's long-standing position to address peacefully its disputes with countries concerned and territorial sovereignty and maritime interests through dialogue and consultation," he said.
"China has settled land boundary issues with 12 out of its 14 neighbours through friendly consultation. And we will continue to work in this direction," added Xi.
"The Chinese government is ready to enhance dialogue and cooperation with relevant countries to maintain freedom of navigation and the safety of maritime routes, and ensure a maritime border of peace, tranquillity and cooperation."