China will not seek hegemony in Asia, Xi Jinping tells Asean leaders

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Beijing president sends message of confidence as leaders of 10 countries gather for annual summit

Chinese president Xi Jinping has told Southeast Asian leaders Beijing will not pursue a unilateral agenda and does not seek to pursue hegemony in the region, as leaders gathered for the annual meeting of the bloc on Wednesday.

China has been trying to present its sphere of influence in the Indo-Pacific as a win-win proposition and has criticised the grouping, which currently has 10 members, for championing freedom of navigation and overflight.

Xi told participants of the Asean Summit and the East Asia Summit that China has already played a “beneficial role” in fostering regional peace and development, and advocated resolving differences through peaceful means.

“There is still work to be done in the Asia-Pacific region and China is willing to play a constructive role,” he said, according to a transcript of his remarks on the Chinese state news agency Xinhua.

“From the party’s point of view, no power can reach the absolute prominence in a period of development as to the essential essence of its development path,” Xi added.

“The world has changed, and regional and international balance of power and power structure has changed as well,” he said.

An Asean news release quoted the Philippines president, Rodrigo Duterte, who is attending the summit, as thanking China for its help in the fight against drugs.

Duterte previously praised China for providing planes and helicopters to help fight the narcotics trade.

Other leaders attending the summit include President Donald Trump of the United States, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and South Korea’s Moon Jae-in.

The US delegation will be led by its secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, and it is unclear what will be discussed on the sidelines.

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