Chinese President Xi Jinping has warned nations against “bossing others around” as he presented China as a defender of global cooperation in the face of growing criticism from Western governments.
“The world’s future should be in the hands of all countries,” Xi said on Tuesday at China’s annual Boao Forum for Asia.
Xi did not name any countries, but his warnings against “Cold War mentality” and “zero-sum game” have been frequently raised by Chinese diplomats in attacking the United States, amid growing tensions between the world’s two biggest economies.
“Rules made by one or several countries should not be imposed on others, and the unilateralism of a few nations should not be setting the tone for the entire world,” he said.
Beijing has adopted more assertive diplomatic policies under the leadership of Xi, while hostility toward China has grown in both parties in Washington. The two governments have in recent months traded attacks on issues including Taiwan, Hong Kong, coronavirus, and the crackdown on ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.
The Biden administration has called on U.S. allies to counter China’s growing global influence. It is strengthening its ties with India, Japan, and Australia—China’s neighbors—in a partnership known as the “Quad,” short for the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue.
The Chinese government has accused Washington of imposing its own ideologies and values on other nations.
“Equality and mutual respect should be prioritized in the interactions between countries,” Xi said. “Bossing others around at every chance and interfering with their internal affairs will not help one win people’s hearts.”
“No matter how developed China becomes, it will never seek hegemony, expand its territory, build a sphere of influence or start arms races,” Xi said.
Xi is effectively telling countries to mind their own business instead of criticizing the Chinese government’s actions, including its suppression of Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, which the Biden administration says amounts to genocide.
China, for its part, has wielded its economic power to pressure multinational companies to toe its line on territorial and human rights issues. For example, Beijing in 2018 ordered international airlines to stop referring to self-ruled Taiwan as a country on their websites.
A number of foreign brands have recently faced boycott calls, largely fueled by state media, for pledging to stop using cotton from Xinjiang allegedly produced by forced labor.
The Boao forum provides an annual platform for Chinese leaders to address global issues. Big-name executives, including Apple’s Tim Cook, Tesla’s Elon Musk, and Intel’s Pat Kissinger, are expected to attend this year’s virtual conference.
In his opening speech, Xi endorsed free trade and an open global economy, pledging to allow more foreign investors to enter the vast Chinese market. He said China would enhance cooperation with other nations in tackling global problems including poverty, climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Thursday, Xi will attend a climate change summit led by U.S. President Biden. It will be the first time they meet as presidents.
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