WASHINGTON D.C. - Chinese President Hu Jintao sought Thursday to assure U.S. business executives with ties to China that his country is not a military threat to the United States but an economic partner ready to help lead the world to full recovery from the deepest financial crisis in generations.
"We will remain committed to the path of peaceful development," Hu told a U.S.-China Business Council luncheon. "We do not engage in arms races, we are not a military threat to any country. China will never seek to dominate or pursue an expansionist policy."
The group, made up of U.S. business leaders whose companies have significant dealings within China, proved a far more receptive audience than the Chinese leader found an earlier meeting on Capitol Hill, where Hu drew fire over China's human rights policies and other practices from some of the harshest U.S. congressional critics.
At Thursday's luncheon, Hu told the business audience that while the world was returning to growth, there remain many "unstabilizing factors" and that full recovery will be a difficult process.
China and the United States are vastly different countries with distinct cultures and traditions, he said. "It's only normal we have some differences."
But said those differences, or particular incidents, shouldn't be allowed to affect warming US-Chinese relations.
He said that U.S. and Chinese dealings should be based on "mutual respect and mutual benefits."
Hu said it was in the interest of both the United States and China to work together "to achieve a full recovery of the world economy."