China needs a harmonious world so that it can have a favorable environment for development and at the same time bring benefits to people all over the world, said a top Chinese legislator on Thursday.
"My answer is simple: China needs a harmonious world.... It means we want to make friends with all countries," Cheng Siwei, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress, told a panel of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
He said a harmonious world can be achieved if China and other countries try to seek common ground while shelving differences.
Another panelist, a Singaporean academic, said China's international ambition is moderate.
"China, in a very profound way, is a 'status quo' power," said Kishore Mahbubani, dean of Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.
"It does not want to shake the world. It wants to work with the world as it is."
He explained that China has intentionally avoided playing a leading role in world affairs as its greater role is easily interpreted as a threat by the outside world.
"If China tries to exercise greater leadership in the world order, it will be seen as threatening (others)."
Former US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said China faces "staggering internal challenges" despite its tremendous achievements.
Therefore, the primary interest of the Chinese leadership is a benign external environment so that they can focus on internal challenges, he explained.
"At the same time, China expects some additional respect and recognition of its interests."
He said there is recognition in China that it needs a strategy for international integration.
China's goal is security stability, energy stability, and access to raw materials, markets, technology and know-how, argued Zoellick, who is now vice chairman of Goldman Sachs International.
Cheng said the outside world is getting incrementally less negative about China's rapid growth.
Five to 10 years ago, some people talked about China's "collapse" because they didn't believe China could sustain its development; three to five year ago, some people talked about "China threat" because they were fearful of China's development; today people are talking about China's responsibility.
This is progress in people's perspectives of China, he said.
But he cautioned that the outside world cannot expect China to take more responsibilities than it can shoulder.
China will take limited responsibilities, he said.
(Xinhua News Agency January 26, 2007)