China Pledges to Use Prosperity to Promote World Peace

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China's leaders have issued a pledge to use the country's growing prosperity to promote global peace, state media said Thursday, amid unease abroad at Beijing's mounting political and military strength.

Ending a three-day conference on foreign policy, President Hu Jintao and other leaders also issued instructions to spread Chinese culture abroad and promote foreign understanding of China, the China Daily and other newspapers reported.

Foreign policy goals set at the meeting said "the country should use its economic growth to promote global peace, which conforms to the fundamental interests of the Chinese people and the world," according to the China Daily.

The meeting, which ended Wednesday, was attended by Hu and the other eight members of the Communist Party's ruling Standing Committee, the party newspaper People's Daily reported.

The report "stressed that foreign affairs work should center around the primary task of development" and China's economic modernization, the People's Daily said.

The announcement comes amid unease among China's neighbors about its intentions at a time of rapid economic expansion and double-digit annual increases in military spending.

Beijing is playing a greater role than ever in multinational peace efforts, with troops sent on U.N. peacekeeping missions in Lebanon and elsewhere. But it also has rattled its neighbors with repeated threats to attack Taiwan, which it claims as its own territory, and spending on high-tech weapons to extend its military's reach.

Hu's government wants to minimize foreign conflicts as it tries to focus on spreading prosperity to the poor countryside and other places left behind by China's economic boom.

But surging Chinese exports and increased presence in world markets also has led to strains, including disputes with Washington over China's multibillion-dollar trade surpluses and controls on its currency.

"China urgently needs to improve the quality of foreign affairs work because it now has `unprecedented close links' with the international community in economic, political, cultural and security fields," the China Daily said.

A report issued at the end of the meeting also pledged to "take concrete steps to protect intellectual property rights" and speed up creation of free-trade zones with other countries, the People's Daily said, without giving details.

Rampant Chinese piracy of foreign music, movies and other goods has strained relations with Beijing's trading partners.

China has promised repeatedly to stamp out the underground industry, but foreign companies say piracy still is costing them billions of dollars a year in lost potential sales.