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China to stick to friendly partnership with neighbors: Xi

2014-03-29 08:51 chinadaily.com.cn Web Editor: Wang Fan

President Xi Jinping on Friday refuted fear over China's national defense and economic buildup, saying that the country will stick to friendly partnership with its neighbors.  [Special coverage]

Xi made the remarks in response to a question on China's rising defense budget after a speech sponsored by the Koerber Foundation in Berlin on the first day of his two-day state visit to Germany.

China announced a 12.2 percent increase in military spending earlier this month, with its national defense budget standing at 80.82 billion yuan this year. Xi defended the national defense buildup, saying that China's national defense, despite rapid increase, matches the legitimate need of national defense buildup of a large country as China.

Xi, who elaborated in the speech the blueprint of China's growth, dismissed perceptions that the nation's economic might makes it a threat.

There are those who "portray China as being the terrifying Mephisto, who would someday suck the soul of the world," Xi said. But that notion "couldn't be more ridiculous, yet some people regrettably are never tired of preaching it."

China's rapid economic growth has helped drive the economic growth and facilitate jobs in its major trade partners, including many of its Asian neighbors. Yet some countries, especially those with territorial and martitime disputes with China, has played the "China Threat" cards in recent years.

About the neighborhood tie, Xi said that as one cannot choose its neighbor, adhering to the friendship and partnership with its neighbors is the only right choice for China from either rational or emotion perspective.

As for the disputes, "we advocate properly handle the frictions and manage disputes through negotiation and dialogue, but on important issues concerning China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, we will not stir up trouble, but we are also not afraid of troubles, and will firmly safeguard China's legitimate rights", according to Xi.

China will never seek "hegemony or expansion", but China will also not repeat the historic tragedy of being slaved and colonized by the big powers after the Opium Wars, Xi told the audience.

Xi, in his speech, also reflected on the country's past as the victim of colonial aggression, and said Japanese atrocities during World War II as something "still fresh in our memory."

Relations between China and Japan have been stalled by a dispute over the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors the country's Class-A war criminals, has made the bilateral tie nosedive.

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