China’s growing might no threat to Asian countries: Hu

KUALA LUMPUR, April 24 Kyodo

China will not become a threat to its Asian neighbors, economically or militarily, despite its growing might, Chinese Vice President Hu Jintao stressed Wednesday during a visit to Malaysia.

Hu, who arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday for a four-day visit, also said his a speech at the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute of Malaysia that China ”will not forget the support” given by fellow Asian countries during its quest to join the World Trade Organization (WTO), which it finally acceded to last December.

Other Asian countries supported China’s bid to become a WTO member despite concerns that it is increasingly becoming a competitor in the export market and in attracting foreign investment.

Hu, who is tipped to take over President Jiang Zemin as Chinese Communist Party chief this year and as president in 2003, urged other Asian countries to look at China as a land of opportunities.

”Now that China is in the WTO, it will surely provide a much broader market and many more abundant business opportunities to the rest of Asia,” he said.

”In the next five years, a more open China will provide its trading partners with opportunities of at least $1.5 trillion worth of goods. China’s service trade market will also be opened gradually to allow new sectors for foreign investors. As China accelerates the implementation of its ‘go global’ strategy, it will increase its investment in other Asian countries,” he said.

Stressing China’s commitment to help its Asian neighbors, Hu said such commitment was proven when China did not devalue its currency when the rest of Asia was hit by the financial crisis that began in mid-1997.

”Since last year, we have continued to keep our currency stable despite a drastic slowdown in our export growth amidst a worldwide economic recession, thus playing an important role in facilitating an economic recovery in Asia,” he said.

Addressing concerns of China’s assuming a ”Big Brother” role in the region, Hu said China ”has long pledged not to seek hegemony, not to join any military bloc and not to pursue its own spheres of influence.”

Hu, who is on his first visit to this Southeast Asian country, was to meet Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and his deputy Abdullah Ahmad Badawi later Wednesday.

He is accompanied by his wife Liu Yongqing and 65-member entourage.

Hu’s trip will also take him to the northern island of Penang on Thursday.

From Penang, he will depart for Singapore on Friday and later head to the United States.

As Jiang’s heir-apparent, Hu’s trip is being keenly watched as little is known about him outside China.

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