China does not believe it is inevitable that emerging powers will confront established ones, and the nation is confident that clashes can be avoided by working on the issue with the United States, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Monday.
Wang made the remarks two days after media reported that a Chinese warship escorting China's sole aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, in the South China Sea on Dec 5 confronted the guided-missile cruiser USS Cowpens, which was closely following the Chinese ships despite warnings from the Chinese.
In spite of the tension, the foreign minister called US Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday night to discuss bilateral ties and other international issues, including the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula.
Addressing a year-end seminar in Beijing focusing on changes in China's foreign policies under the new government, the minister said that throughout history, it seems to be a matter of fate that "major powers, especially emerging powers and established ones, will compete, confront and even clash with each other.
"However, today, in the 21st century and given fast-developing globalisation, China neither believes in nor agrees with the idea of such a fate."
President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart, Barack Obama, promised to build a new type of relationship between major countries during an informal summit in Rancho Mirage, California, in early June.
Xi described the relationship as one with mutually beneficial cooperation and mutual trust that works to avoid conflicts and confrontation.
Wang noted that in the past year, the two presidents met twice, while US Vice-President Joe Biden made a visit to China earlier this month.
The two nations held a fruitful round of strategic and economic talks, while negotiations on a bilateral investment treaty have entered the "pragmatic phase", the minister said.
Wang said a major task of China's diplomatic mission next year is to push forward a new-type relationship with the US and "enrich it with more results of cooperation".
Still, he stressed, while China will firmly adhere to the path of peaceful development, it will not sacrifice national interests in this regard.
In his call to Wang on Sunday, Kerry said that the US expects to work with China on a closer relationship, and to enhance communication and cooperation on regional and international issues.
Ye Zhicheng, a professor from the School of International Studies of Peking University, said at the seminar that the new-type relationship between major nations is also a fresh idea in the West, which advocates competition.
"To forge such a relationship, we should get rid of the Western thinking and turn to the Chinese pattern," Ye said, citing the ancient spirit from Yi Jing (The Book of Changes), which stresses that all things in the world are connected.
"And we should see the US in a correct way. It is neither an angel, nor a devil. ... It contains China, but also has common interests with us.
"We have asked the US to get past the Cold War mentality, and we, Chinese, also need to get past it," Ye said.
The new-type relationship will be realised if Beijing and Washington can build a security platform centred on common security, establish enough channels of communication and seek mutually beneficial results, he said.
An Huihou, director of the Center of Strategic Studies under the China Foundation for International Studies, said the China-US relationship is not the same as relationships between emerging and established powers in the past.
The two nations are in an era of peaceful development and have many intertwining interests, he said.
An said that unlike emerging powers in the past, China has nuclear weapons and other military means that allows for an effective reaction to outside military strikes.
He said that to avoid conflicts, people have been talking about building strategic mutual trust, averting misjudgment and controlling crises.
"These are definitely very important. But for me, the more important thing is to strike the balance when weighing capabilities of the two nations, and when weighing the interests and harm."