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Wednesday, 24 April, 2002, 09:18 GMT 10:18 UK
China's Hu warns 'bullying' nations
Hu Jintao (left) speaks to reporters upon his arriving at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur, 23 April 2002.
Mr Hu is due to meet President Bush during his US trip
China's little-known heir apparent Hu Jintao, on his way to the US, said on Wednesday that China opposed big nations bullying the small.

China views all countries as equals, irrespective of their size

Hu Jintao
Mr Hu, speaking in Malaysia, is due to arrive in the US on Saturday on his highest-profile foreign trip to date.

Although he did not mention the US by name in his speech opposing "the strong lording it over the weak", China has consistently opposed US "hegemony" in world affairs.

Little is known about the policies of Mr Hu, widely expected to succeed President Jiang Zemin as Communist party leader later this year.

Rare speech

Mr Hu is China's vice-president and deputy chairman of the powerful committee that runs the country's military. He has not been officially put forward as a successor, but correspondents see him as the favourite.

"China views all countries as equals, irrespective of their size," Mr Hu told the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute in Kuala Lumpur.

"It opposes the strong lording it over the weak and the big bullying the small."

China "has long pledged not to seek hegemony, not to join any military bloc and not to pursue its own spheres of influence," he said.

Mr Hu is due to head to Singapore on Friday before flying to the US. He is due to meet top officials including President George Bush during his week-long visit.

President Jiang is expected to retire as party chairman this autumn, and then step down from the presidency in 2003.

But he is likely to remain influential as he is set to remain in charge of the armed forces until 2007.

See also:

21 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
Bush puts stress on human rights
16 Feb 02 | Media reports
Hu Jintao: Hardliner or liberal?
21 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
China's heir apparent to visit US
20 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Neither enemies nor friends
20 Feb 02 | Americas
US-China dialogue warms
18 Feb 02 | Business
China and US reap economic rewards
21 Feb 02 | Media reports
Chinese President's speech in full
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