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China Touts Peaceful Rise, Experts Note Challenges


Chinese officials at a seminar on China's global influence say the country's rising power has contributed to world peace - a path they say China will stick to. But foreign experts attending the event questioned China's prospects for peaceful development. Daniel Schearf reports from Beijing.

The international seminar entitled "China's Peaceful Development sought to portray China as a benevolent rising power that posed no threat to its neighbors or the world.

Officials and experts attending the government co-sponsored seminar lauded China's contributions to the world economy and diplomatic efforts.

Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan said China's rise to power would continue to be peaceful and involve no aggression, expansion or colonization as other countries behaved when they were becoming world powers.

Tang says China's development relies mainly on itself and would not threaten any other country or people. He says in fact China's development is contributing more and more to the development of not only the region, but also the world.

Foreign experts attending the seminar applauded China's economic success and its work to resolve the North Korean nuclear conflict.

But they also said China's rise was straining the world's natural resources and environment, and its annual double-digit increases in defense spending is raising concerns about its military intentions.

Former U.S. Ambassador to China J. Stapleton Roy said as China has become more prosperous, friction in the region has increased.

"It is one thing to have a concept of peaceful development when you have a great gap to cover between yourself and other countries that are stronger," said Roy. "And, once you have the power, the question is-can you continue to use it wisely?"

Ambassador Roy said any number of countries, including the United States, have changed their patterns of behavior as they have become more powerful.

He said rising nationalism in China and historical rival Japan was a worrying trend.

Another potential problem is Taiwan, the self-ruled democratic island that China claims as its own and has vowed to one day reunite with the mainland, by military force if necessary.

Pro-independence politicians in Taiwan have been pushing for an official declaration that Taiwan is sovereign and separate from mainland China - a situation that Beijing would never accept and that could lead to military conflict.

The United States has indicated it would defend Taiwan if China attacks, potentially leading to a clash between the world's only super power and the world's fastest rising power.