China Says It Will Never Seek Regional Hegemony

Chinese President Xi Jinping said Saturday his country will never seek hegemony no matter how strong it becomes, even as his neighbors worry about Beijing's actions in several territorial disputes.

Xi made the comments as he hosted leaders of India and Myanmar to commemorate 60 years since their countries agreed to principles of peaceful coexistence.

At the same time, China is quarreling with several neighboring countries, including India, over territory and is challenging U.S. power in the region. In November, China declared an air defense identification zone over much of the East China Sea, where it is disputing several islands with Japan.

Tensions also flared up with Vietnam after China deployed oil rigs in waters claimed by both countries, and with the Philippines, where Beijing has asserted its sovereignty in the South China Sea close to Philippine shore.

However, Xi, Myanmar President Thein Sein and Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari pledged to work to preserve regional peace.

Xi also called for "a new architecture of Asia-Pacific security." He has said previously that such a security arrangement would include Russia and Iran and exclude the United States.

While the U.S. is not a claimant itself, it says it has a national interest in sustaining open navigation and trade through the strategic waters in the South and East China seas.