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Chinese PM: China Is Not a Threat to Neighbors

Chinese PM Wen Jiabao, left, with President Pervez Musharraf in Islamabad
Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao says his country will never become a threat to other countries nor attempt to dominate them. Mr. Wen spoke in Pakistan during the first leg of his four-nation tour of South Asia. .

Addressing concerns about China's growing influence in Asia, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said those fears are needless.

"The Chinese people will always be a trustworthy and reliable partner for the Asian peoples," he said. "Some people are worried that a stronger and more developed China will pose a threat to other countries. Such a worry is completely misplaced."

The prime minister was speaking to the Asian Development Dialogue, a regional economic conference in Islamabad that has drawn government officials from across Asia and the Middle East.

China's economic growth has many analysts predicting it may well become the world's next superpower.

Mr. Wen did say China is committed to taking a greater diplomatic role in South Asia. During the past few years, Beijing has strengthened not only its traditional friendship with Pakistan, but also its relationship with India, which in the past had been aggravated by border disputes.

He called for greater political dialogue in the region, saying peace is a necessary condition for prosperity.

"We must spare no efforts to cultivate in Asia a regional environment of peace and mutual trust and lasting stability," he said.

Officials here say Mr. Wen's trip is focused on economic diplomacy - opening markets for Chinese goods and investments, while easing concerns over its political intentions.

He has signed a series of development deals with Pakistan worth roughly $350 million. On Monday, Beijing agreed to sell Pakistan four naval frigates.