Beijing: Playing down its growing clout in the backdrop of its rapid economic development, China on Tuesday said it was unable to take on more global responsibilities and "fully play the role of a major country".
"China is still a growing country with imbalanced development," Assistant Foreign Minister Le Yucheng said at a forum organised by China Institute of International Studies, a think tank in Beijing.
It's unfair to accuse China of being a "selective stakeholder" who switches between the role of "elephant" or "ant" as it sees fit, rather than a "full stakeholder," he said.
China is the second largest economy, but not the second strongest country. Le said that for all its remarkable progress, China still has many weak links.
"It is not unwilling - but unable - to take on more international responsibilities and fully play the role of a major country."
"Just like in sports: Though China has a comfortable lead in table tennis, it is almost impossible for China to win a gold medal in football," he said.
"China's development is attributable, first and foremost, to the hard work of the Chinese people, who are well-known for their diligence, dedication and willingness to work overtime," he said, adding that employees in China only have five to 15 days of paid vacation each year, which is less than half of the figure in European countries.
At the forum, Le also said that China's top job is to secure well-being of its 1.35 billion people. China's sheer size and fast development has brought many expected and unexpected problems, he said.
In Europe, a country of 14 million people is a big country, but China has a population 100 times as large, said the official.
Every year, China needs to create 25 million jobs, Le said.
"Managing such issues well so that the 1.35 billion people can lead a good life is the highest priority of the Chinese government," he said, adding that "Nothing is more important than this," state-run Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying.