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China plays fairly, advocates peaceful development in the international community and never seeks hegemony, which is the "best soft power" the country can have, said a high-ranking Foreign Ministry official on Friday.
Qin Gang, spokesman of the Foreign Ministry and head of its information department, made the remarks in an online chat hosted by People's Daily. It marked the beginning of a series of Web interviews with ministry officials.
Responding to a question about how the country views its international status as the world's second-largest economy, Qin said that the country still faces many development problems, but China feels neither "arrogant" nor "self-abased".
Qin said China is committed to peaceful development and world harmony.
"When China's economy is developed, it will naturally take on greater international responsibilities and make bigger contributions," Qin said.
He added that China has come to attach greater importance to public diplomacy and aims to promote communication and mutual understanding with the global community.
In recent years, the Foreign Ministry has been hosting the Lanting Forum to facilitate discussions on foreign policies and issues of common interest between relevant parties.
The ministry has also increased the frequency of news conferences from two times a week to five times a week since September.
Qin said that as China's overseas activities have increased, the international community hopes to hear the country's response to major events as soon as possible.
"The regular news conferences of the Foreign Ministry have become an indispensable part of China's communication and allow others to learn more about China," said Qin.
Social media platforms have also become a tool for public diplomacy. The Foreign Ministry's micro blog on Sina Weibo called Waijiao Xiaolingtong, which literally means foreign affairs information, already has nearly 2 million followers.
During state visits to other countries, Chinese officials also engage in public diplomacy by communicating with people from all walks of life and paying visits to ordinary families.
During Vice-President Xi Jinping's visit to the United States in February, he met with a family in Muscatine, in the state of Iowa.
"(Such visits) bring our country closer to the world and extend the sincerity, kindness and friendship of the Chinese people," said Qin.
(China Daily 04/07/2012 page7)