China’s new president, Xi Jinping, promised that change and peaceful development would power his country’s economic rise and sustain growth within its borders and beyond, but said finding the key to global growth remained elusive.
He told an annual forum in Boao, on the southern Chinese island province of Hainan, that the global economy has entered a period of “profound readjustment” and warned that protectionism was on the rise internationally.
"Achieving common development for all countries remains an uphill battle," Mr Xi told the forum, which functions like a China-sponsored version of the Davos World Economic Forum. "Rather than undercutting each other's efforts, countries should complement each other and work for joint progress."
Given the jitters among Asian economies over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, Mr Xi emphasised how peace was pivotal for the future of the world’s second-biggest economy, and he appealed to business and political leaders to use diplomacy and dialogue to resolve disputes and allow wealth to spread and solve problems.
"Sustained development is still of paramount importance to Asia, because only development holds the key to solving the major problems and difficulties the region faces.
“It is important that we should shift the growth model, adjust the economic structure, make development more cost-effective and make life better for our people,” he said.
The audience included political and business leaders such as Australian prime minister Julia Gillard, Burma's president Thein Sein and International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde.
She said countries needed to “reaccelerate” the process of co-operation that was evident at the beginning of the financial crisis.
“There was a very strong sense of urgency and a massive desire to co-operate,” Ms Lagarde said. “But let’s be honest about it: that sense of urgency has clearly abated as the crisis has tempered and as recovery has been a bit more patchy.”
Mr Xi said he was “full of confidence in China’s future” and that China would keep up “robust growth momentum”.
Domestic demand, particularly consumption-driven demand, would continue to grow and outbound investment would keep growing.
China's economy expanded at an annual average of 10.5 per cent over the past decade and new premier Li Keqiang said last month that the country needs to achieve growth of 7.5 per cent a year to meet the country's targets for 2020, which include doubling per capita income. Gross domestic product rose 7.8 per cent last year, the lowest increase since 1999.