China's President Xi Jinping applauds the 'promise' of the Chinese economy despite slowing growth

Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during a media conference in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing March 26, 2015. REUTERS/Feng Li/PoolThomson ReutersJinping speaks during a media conference in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing

BOAO, China (AP) — Chinese President Xi Jinping argued Saturday for strong China-led efforts to promote Asian economic and political cooperation while opening a major regional economic conference.

Xi delivered the keynote address at the Boao Forum on Hainan island in the country’s south, at which he lauded the promise of the Chinese economy despite slowing growth.

He celebrated what he said was a multipolar world in which all countries play equal roles in regional development and security. The comment comes as China challenges U.S. leadership in Asia by promoting its own projects such as the U.S.-shunned Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank and assertively staking territorial claims around the continent.

With hundreds of regional leaders listening, Xi said Asia needed to build “a community of common destiny” that would contribute to world prosperity.

“We need to make sure all countries respect one another and treat each other as equals,” Xi said. “Countries may differ in size, strength, level of development, but they are all equal members of the international community with equal right to participate in international affairs.”

At the same time, Xi sought to reassure leaders about the health of China’s economy, which has shifted to annual economic growth levels of about 7 per cent, the slowest in two decades. He said China would emphasise quality and efficiency in its economy rather than rapid expansion and will import $US10 trillion in goods over the next five years.

“This new normal of the Chinese economy will continue to bring more opportunities for trade growth and development for the countries of Asia and beyond,” Xi said.

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This article originally appeared at Reuters. Copyright 2015. Follow Reuters on Twitter.

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