The spokesman for China's top political advisory body yesterday rebutted allegations that the country had been exercising "sharp power" to influence the political affairs of other countries, calling this an effort by the West to "smear" China.
Responding to a question on the matter at a press conference ahead of the annual meeting of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) today, spokesman Wang Guoqing drew a comparison with similar efforts by Western countries.
"Even though we are talking about exactly the same thing, for Western countries, they are showcasing soft power or smart power. But when it comes to China, it's sharp power or ulterior motives," he said, adding that this illustrated prejudice, discrimination and hostility towards the rising Asian power.
A report by the United States' National Endowment for Democracy last December labelled as "sharp power" efforts by Russia and China to influence outcomes in democracies around the world.
Sharp power refers to the combination of traditional soft power, with more coercive tools such as trade and cyber piracy, and China has been accused of exercising this influence to compel other countries to submit to its will.
Yesterday, Mr Wang said that as China grows in strength, it will intensify its efforts to project its image, but this was so that the world could get a "comprehensive" understanding of the country.
"In the past, we could not make ourselves heard. Now, we are capable of making our voice heard far and wide," he said.
During the press conference, Mr Wang also responded to a question on China's plan for diplomacy with Japan, saying Sino-Japanese relations needed to be managed well as they had consequences not just for the two countries, but for the world. He pointed out that the countries are close neighbours, and both major East Asian countries and major world economies.
He noted there have been positive signs in the bilateral relationship recently, and he hopes both sides will seize this opportunity to boost ties further.
In January, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono visited Beijing, the first such visit in almost two years, and both sides have also agreed to steadily promote reciprocal visits by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Mr Wang said the crux of the turbulent nature of the relationship was "the flip-flop nature of the Japanese government to historical issues", and a narrow-minded view of China as a strategic rival.
"A country that attempts to forget the past and not face its history cannot win respect, and the country that views its neighbour as a strategic rival is doomed to lose its future," he said.