Chinese Premier Li Keqiang says there is no contradiction between Beijing's insistence on safeguarding its sovereign rights and its desire for peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

Li's remarks at an annual news conference Wednesday struck a moderate tone toward complaints over Chinese policies and actions in the South China Sea and elsewhere seen by some as overly aggressive.

Li reaffirmed China's desire for a calm regional environment and good neighborly relations, saying differences could be handled through peaceful diplomatic means. He acknowledged Washington's role in the region, saying China was open to cooperating with the U.S. and managing the countries' differences.

While Li said China's commitment to upholding its sovereignty and territorial integrity is "totally unambiguous," he said it would also be a "powerful force" for world peace.