WASHINGTON - Chinese President Xi Jinping called for a better understanding of "strategic intentions" between China and the United States, advocating a relationship with more trust and less suspicion.
Speaking to dignitaries and business leaders in Seattle, Washington, on the first day of his week-long visit to the US, Mr Xi put into context China's development over the last few decades and laid out how the country sees itself working with the international community, in particular, the US.
He also addressed areas of concern, including cyber security, the stability of the Chinese economy, and the treatment of non-profit organisations, while giving a frank assessment of how the US and China should manage their ties in accordance with the new model of great power relations, a concept he had proposed to US President Barack Obama at their 2013 summit in Sunnylands, California. The model features non-confrontation, mutual respect and willing co-operation between the two powers.
The speech on Tuesday precedes Mr Xi's first state visit to the US capital today and tomorrow, when he will be hosted by Mr Obama.
On the issue of cyber security, which is expected to be a key point of contention during this week's summit, Mr Xi said that China is also a victim and considers itself a "strong defender of cyber security".
Amid accusations that China is responsible for commercial espionage and the theft of US government employees' personal data, Mr Xi said his government "would not engage in commercial thefts, or encourage or support such attempts by anyone". He added that China is "ready to set up a high-level joint dialogue mechanism with the US on fighting cybercrimes".
Mr Xi's comments come at a time when US officials have raised the possibility of imposing sanctions against the Chinese for cyber attacks on American companies.
Addressing this issue earlier in the day, National Security Council senior director for Asian affairs Daniel Kritenbrink told reporters that Mr Obama "has made clear there are a range of options available to him" and "the goal is to try to get this sort of behaviour to stop".
Mr Xi also spoke on the recent fluctuations in the Chinese stock market, saying that his government had taken the necessary steps to stabilise the market and contain panic, thus "avoiding systemic risks".
He reassured business leaders that China is committed to reform "aimed at modernising the country's governance system and capabilities so that the market can play a decisive role in the allocation of resources".
"China will never close its open door to the outside world," he said, reiterating its policy to attract foreign investment and protect investor interests.
This year, Beijing is expected to report growth of 6.5 to 7 per cent, down from last year's 7.3 per cent.
Allaying fears of the rising global power's ambitions, Mr Xi made it clear that China will never seek hegemonic expansion and that "peaceful development is the right path".
Emphasising that China and the US must "firmly advance win-win co-operation", Mr Xi listed areas where they can work together, including environmental protection, stabilising global financial markets and building military-to-military relations. He also noted the importance of managing differences "properly and effectively".
Mr Nathaniel Ahrens, director of China affairs at the University of Maryland, noted that "Mr Xi made it clear that frictions are unavoidable, but we (China and the US) should work through them while keeping an eye to co-operation on global issues of mutual concern".
Warned Mr Xi: "If China and the US co-operate well, they can become the bedrock of global stability and a booster of world peace; should they enter into conflict or confrontation, it would lead to disaster for both countries and the world at large."
This article was first published on Sept 24, 2015.
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