China urges more trust, openness in Asia

(dpa) - Chinese President Hu Jintao on Saturday launched an annual Asian economic forum with a call for greater trust and openness across the continent, and a promise that China would never seek to dominate its neighbours.

Hu urged Asian nations to "enhance political mutual trust," deepen economic links, and develop non-exclusive regional cooperation in areas such as climate change, health services and combating terrorism.

"As we strive to develop ourselves, we are also ready to accommodate the legitimate concerns of other countries, developing countries in particular," he said in the opening speech at the Bo'ao Forum for Asia on China's southern island of Hainan.

"China does not interfere in other countries' internal affairs, nor does it try to impose its own will on others," state media quoted as Hu saying.

He said China was "committed to peaceful settlement of international disputes" and would "never seek hegemony or expansion."

"We hold that economic and trade frictions should be solved through consultation and cooperation, and countries should share in development opportunities and jointly meet challenges," he said.

The Bo'ao forum this year has the theme "Green Asia, moving towards win-win through change," with a focus on sustainable development and the environment.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Raiapaksa, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt were among the 1,700 delegates at the forum in China's southern island resort of Hainan.

In his speech at the forum, Musharraf called for closer global cooperation on sustainable economic and social development to help the world's poor.

He proposed a platform to make energy-saving and water-saving technology available free to developing countries, and the setting up of a mechanism for Asian nations to share experience in environmental protection, the official Xinhua news agency reported from Hainan.

Bachelet also spoke at the forum, calling for "closer cooperation between Asia and Latin America in the trend of globalization to achieve mutual development," the agency said.

Delegates to the two-day forum also planned to discuss topics including public-private partnerships in the green energy sector, sustainable development in the telecommunications industry, and financial reform in Asia.

Talks on Sunday were scheduled to cover climate change, the future of the internet and competition in the global marketplace, the organizers said.

The Bo'ao forum has been held annually in Hainan since 2002. Its founders hope it will evolve into an Asian version of the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

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