China not seeking role of Asia's 'big brother', says Premier Li Keqiang

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang shaking hands with Mr Suthichai Yoon, chief adviser of Thailand's Nation Multimedia Group, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing yesterday. Mr Li discussed a range of issues with editors from the Asia News Network.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang shaking hands with Mr Suthichai Yoon, chief adviser of Thailand's Nation Multimedia Group, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing yesterday. Mr Li discussed a range of issues with editors from the Asia News Network.PHOTO: CHINA DAILY

Chinese Premier tells visiting Asian editors that his nation is not a superpower and will never bully other countries

BEIJING • China does not intend to assume the role of a "big brother" but instead seeks to build a shared future with all its neighbours, Premier Li Keqiang said in Beijing yesterday.

He insisted several times that China is still a developing country and has a long way to go in its modernisation drive.

There are no grounds to consider China a superpower, nor does it have any intention of behaving like one, Mr Li said.

"China has a long way to go to realise modernisation. It needs a stable regional and peaceful international environment, and China is committed to safeguarding that environment," he said.

The Premier made the comments while answering questions from Asian editors during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People.

The editors, from 21 Asian media outlets, had gathered in Beijing for the two-day annual board meeting of the Asia News Network (ANN).

The ANN, founded in 1999, is one of the world's largest media alliances. It comprises leading, mostly English-language, news groups with a combined readership of at least 14 million.

Mr Li said that even if China succeeds in its modernisation drive in the coming decades, Beijing will not seek hegemony or bully any other country, however small that nation is in terms of population or land mass.

Just as a person might accidentally bite his lip, it is only natural that neighbours will have differences, the Premier said, but the key was to address such disparities in a calm, diplomatic way.

"I firmly believe that our era is one that needs peace and cooperation," he said.

"The common interests among China and its neighbours are way greater than the disparities, and we can always optimise the common interests and better manage our differences."

Responding to a question on China's relations with Asean, Mr Li said that China has consistently supported the integration process of Asean and the building of the Asean community.

He added that he will attend a summit in Laos in September to mark the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the China-Asean Dialogue.

"We are committed to pursuing the policy of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness in developing relations with neighbours," he said.

"We would like to expand political trust with Asean members and other Asia countries… and make concerted efforts to build a close community of a shared future in Asia."

Mr Li also took questions on other issues, such as the Korean peninsula, the South China Sea and relations with specific countries.

He said that Asia, as one of the most dynamic regions in the world, has played an increasingly important part in the world's political and economic arenas.

The Premier said he hopes that the Asian news outlets, by following the ANN goal of improving Asian media's coverage of regional affairs, can help create an optimal environment for peace and prosperity in the region and around the world.

CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 01, 2016, with the headline 'China not seeking role of Asia's 'big brother', says Li'. Print Edition | Subscribe