Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday took a jab at a U.S. attempt to dilute the regional and global influence of the Asian power, emphasizing a “new Cold War” would hurt the interests of the world economy.
An artificial construction of “walls” runs counter to economic and market rules and “would disadvantage others,” Xi said in a keynote speech online at the Boao Forum for Asia, billed as the region’s alternative to the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Xi said China will “actively” participate in multilateral cooperation in the business field and contribute to building a “new higher-level open economic system,” apparently urging the United States not to adhere to trade protectionist policies.
As democratic countries closely tied to the United States are expected to be decoupled further from those intimate with Communist-led China, Beijing “opposes any form of new Cold War and ideological confrontation,” Xi said.
“The rules set by one or some countries should not be imposed on others,” he said, adding, “China will never seek hegemony and try to expand spheres of influence, nor engage in an arms race.”
Xi made the speech days after U.S. President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga at their summit in Washington affirmed the significance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, irritating the Chinese government.
Beijing views Taiwan, the self-ruled island that sits across the strait, as a renegade province awaiting reunification, if necessary by force.
In their first in-person meeting during the Biden presidency on Friday, the U.S. and Japanese leaders also voiced concern over China’s alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang, the crackdown on Hong Kong, and security challenges in Taiwan and the nearby waters.
Although not directly touching on the issues or naming the United States in his speech, Xi said it is “unpopular to arrogantly instruct other countries and interfere in their internal affairs” when a nation wants to get along with others.
Xi, meanwhile, pledged to deepen international cooperation in the areas of artificial intelligence and biomedicine in a bid to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus while committing to making efforts to tackle climate change.
At the same forum in 2018, Xi criticized the administration of former U.S. President Donald Trump’s “America First” policy, with trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies escalating. Biden took office in January.
The Boao forum was canceled in 2020 against the backdrop of the outbreak of the coronavirus, first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.
This year, politicians and business leaders worldwide took part in the forum, which began Sunday, to discuss topics including economic reconstruction from the pandemic and China’s cross-border infrastructure “Belt and Road” initiative.
Leaders of other countries, such as South Korean President Moon Jae In and Indonesian President Joko Widodo, have been invited to join the annual forum held in China’s southern island province of Hainan, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.