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China doesn't want to be the only world leader, says State Council counselor

Rather than fully stepping into a global leadership vacuum that could be left by an increasingly isolationist United States, China is looking to be but one of the world's leaders, a counselor of the country's State Council said on Tuesday.

"China prefers to become one of the leading group — maybe," said Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations and the director of the Center for American Studies at the Renmin University of China.

Speaking to CNBC on the sidelines of a conference in Tokyo, Shi, who is also a counselor of China's State Council said China, like many other countries is paying "great attention" to increasing unilateralism and uncertainty under Donald Trump's presidency.

Shi's comments came after Trump last week pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement, prompting criticisms from many quarters globally. Earlier, Trump also pulled the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

Meanwhile, China has repeatedly voiced its support for combating global warming and promoting free trade.

"China, of course, will play a more active role in supporting those so-called international order, global order, based on international cooperation. China is very much willing to cooperate with every power, every country in the world," Shi said.

The world's second largest economy is pushing through its global expansion through mega-projects like the One Belt, One Road initiative.

On Monday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gave his conditional support for the infrastructure project in what was seen as an explicit show of support for the plan — a shift from what was previously viewed as a negative stance, Nikkei Asian Review reported Tuesday.