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 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.
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 [ Images ] and most of its neighbours over boundary disputes.
China is currently bogged down with maritime boundary issues with Japan [ Images ] and most of its South East Asian neighbours over the boundaries of South China Sea, while it looked to improve ties with India [ Images ] 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.
He said China is following a road of peaceful development and other countries should do the same.
He also said only when all countries pursue a path of peaceful development can they jointly develop and enjoy peaceful coexistence.
"We should widely and deeply spread our country's strategic thinking of sticking to the road of peaceful development and guide the international community to properly understand and approach China's development," Xi said.
He said the government will ensure that the public benefits from China's peaceful development, as well as work to consolidate a material and social basis for furthering its development.
"Wartime atrocities in the past have made an indelible impression on the Chinese people, leading them to desire and cherish a peaceful and stable life," Xi said.
"Turbulence is what the Chinese people are afraid of, stability is what they are after and world peace is what they are looking forward to," Xi said.
China has put forward the five principles of peaceful co-existence, established and carried out a peaceful and independent foreign policy, made a solemn commitment to never seek hegemony and expansion and emphasized that it will always remain a staunch force in safeguarding world peace, Xi said.
China will unswervingly adhere to these principles, policies and commitments, he said adding that it will pursue the goals of building a moderately prosperous society by 2021 and building a prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and modernised socialist country by 2049.
To realise "China dream", "we must have a peaceful international environment."
"Without peace, China and the world at large cannot develop smoothly; without development, both China and the world as a whole cannot have enduring peace," he said.