WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The director of the CIA told an audience at Kansas State University on Wednesday that China is "not the inevitable enemy" of the United States.
CIA Director Michael Hayden said China is growing in power but is not the "inevitable" enemy of the U.S.
Michael Hayden spoke about three main challenges facing the United States: burgeoning populations, China's increasing economic power and America's prickly relationship with Europe.
Hayden said the world's population is expected to grow by 45 percent to 9 billion people by midcentury, mostly in countries that cannot sustain such growth, such as Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Combine that with the likely mass migration to developed countries, and resources will be strained, leading to an increased risk of violence, civil unrest or extremism, he said.
China will become an economic and political competitor to the United States, he said, but should not be treated as "an inevitable enemy."
Although the rapid growth of the Chinese military could pose a threat to the United States and Taiwan, Hayden said, he believes that the nation's aim of military modernization is about "projecting strength" and demonstrating that it has "great-power status." Watch Hayden talk about what the CIA will focus on in the future »
Hayden did warn that China is focusing too narrowly on its own objectives.
"If Beijing begins to accept greater responsibility for the health of the international system -- as all global powers should -- we will remain on a constructive, even if competitive path," he said.
"If not, the rise of China begins to look more adversarial."
Differences over the war in Iraq and the fight against terrorism continue to strain relations with Europe, Hayden said. Although Europe and the United States agree about the urgent threat of terrorism, he said the United States considers itself at war with terrorists.
Europe sees terrorism as primarily "an internal, law-enforcement problem."
He questioned whether "the United States and Europe will come to share the same views of the 21st century, as we did for the last half of the 20th century, and then forge a common approach to security."
Hayden said the global context has changed considerably from the struggle of the Cold War, when America dominated the world economically, politically and militarily.
"In this new century, the world will be far more complex, and the capacity of others -- both nation-states and non-state actors -- to influence world events will grow," he said.
The "overriding challenge" for the intelligence community will be to "do a better job of understanding cultures, histories, religions and traditions that are not our own," he said.
He warned "against viewing the world exclusively through an American prism," saying that "while we cherish and live our own values, we must know and appreciate those of others." E-mail to a friend