Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Friday that the development of China is an opportunity for countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) , not a threat.
China's fast growth has generated tangible benefits for its ASEAN friends while "unavoidably" arousing certain suspicion, concern or even misunderstanding among some of them, and "We're clear about it," Wang said in a speech at the opening ceremony of the High-Level Forum on the 10th Anniversary of China-ASEAN Strategic Partnership.
"This is nothing to be surprised at, because anyone could feel uneasy about a close friend who has all of a sudden grown into a big fellow," he said, adding that China's development is the strengthening of a force for peace and friendship.
Wang cited former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad as an "outstanding ASEAN statesman with a strategic vision" who pointed out several years ago that China's development would bring benefits to the neighboring countries rather than threat.
According to the minister, the judgment of a country's strategic direction should be based on its culture and history. The essence of the Chinese culture is about the pursuit of peace that features love, non-offense and good-neighborliness.
"These fine cultural concepts and philosophies have imposed an important and far-reaching impact on the culture of the entire East, including southeast Asian countries," Wang said.
When talking about history, the minister cited the famous story of Zheng He and his voyages to the western seas during the heights of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) to exemplify China's history of non-intrusion.
"Numerous expeditions were sent by other world powers after that. But few were as peaceful and non-intrusive as Zheng's. He reached many Southeast Asian countries on many occasions and left behind tales of peace, friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation," said Wang.
China has made no attempt to act as colonialist anywhere in the world throughout the past 600 years and more, nor has it gone for expansion in its neighborhood since the People's Republic was founded more than 60 years ago.
"This is what China has done in the past and it will remain unchanged in the future," said the minister.