China `committed to friendly relations in Asia Pacific`

Many Asian nations are wary of China`s assertive posture on territorial rows.

Yokohama: China`s President Hu Jintao on Sunday gave assurances that the Asian powerhouse was committed to being a good neighbour in the Asia Pacific region, as a dispute with Japan thawed.

"China remains committed to... the regional policy of building good-neighbourliness and friendship," Hu said in a speech at a Pacific Rim summit in the Japanese port city of Yokohama.

China`s increasingly assertive stance on territorial rows with a number of nations over potentially resource-rich islands in the East and South China Seas has triggered nervousness across the region.

Those fears came to the fore when a bitter diplomatic row erupted between China and Japan after Tokyo arrested a Chinese trawler captain in disputed waters more than two months ago.

But in a move that substantially eased tensions between the two nations, Hu met with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Saturday on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Yokohama.

In their first talks since the dispute, the leaders pledged to improve relations and Hu said he believed the two countries should "follow a road of peace, friendship and cooperation".

The Chinese captain`s arrest after a collision with Japanese patrol boats had triggered protests, snubs and accusations of retaliatory economic measures by China.

Many Asian nations have viewed with alarm China`s newly assertive posture on territorial issues, and welcomed Washington`s efforts to re-engage with a region where it is seen as an important counterbalance.

US President Barack Obama had urged Tokyo and Beijing to resolve the dispute, which was seen as undermining regional stability.

"The United States, China and Japan represent the world`s three largest economies and, thus, we all share an interest in promoting security and prosperity with each other and throughout the region," he told Japan`s Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper on Friday.

Hu`s speech came as the 21 APEC members gathered under the cloud of tensions between its biggest economies.

The Chinese leader warned that "protectionism in various forms has risen notably" in the Asia Pacific region.

"We need to take concrete measures against protectionism in all its forms and renew and fulfil our pledge to refrain from setting new barriers to goods, investment and services," he said.