Bangkok, Thailand Eureka News Now —
Chinese leader Xi Jinping has stressed the need to reject a confrontation in Asia and warned of the risk of Cold War tensions as leaders gather for the latest of three world summits taking place in the region this month.
Xi has already used Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to stake out how China should be viewed by his counterparts — in a written speech released ahead of Friday’s opening day, he portrayed the country as an actor of regional unity.
Without specifically naming the United States, the speech also seemed to take several stabs at the United States.
The Asia-Pacific region is “nobody’s backyard” and must not become “the arena for great power struggles,” Xi said in the statement, in which he also warned against attempts to “disrupt” or “dismantle” industrial supply chains.
“Unilateralism and protectionism should be rejected by all; Any attempt to politicize and arm economic and trade ties should also be rejected by all,” said Xi, who was originally scheduled to deliver the remarks to business leaders but was canceled due to unforeseen scheduling conflicts, Reuters reported, citing organizers.
“No attempt to wage a new Cold War will ever be permitted by the people or our time,” he added. Xi softened his tone in a separate address to APEC leaders Friday morning at the start of the event, calling for stability, peace and the development of a “fairer world order.”
Relations between the world’s two largest economies have deteriorated sharply in recent years, with the two sides clashing over issues including Taiwan, the war in Ukraine, North Korea and technology transfers.
But US-China tensions, which eased slightly after a landmark meeting between Xi and US President Joe Biden earlier this week in Bali, Indonesia, will not be the only shadow hanging over the APEC summit.
Leaders and officials from 21 economies on both sides of the Pacific — accounting for about half of world trade — are expected to grapple with how to manage the economic fallout from the war in Ukraine over the course of their two-day summit, an annual gathering is intended to promote regional economic integration.
At stake is whether leaders can find a consensus on how to deal with Russia’s aggression in a final document, or whether disagreements among the broad grouping of nations will force such an outcome despite months of discussions between APEC’s junior officials Nations will prevent.
Addressing business leaders alongside Friday morning’s summit, French President Emmanuel Macron, invited by host country Thailand but not part of the grouping, called for consensus and unity against Russia’s aggression.
“Help us convey the same message to Russia: stop the war, stop the international order at hand and come back to the table,” he said.
Macron also cited the US-China rivalry and warned of the risks to peace if countries were forced to choose between the two great powers.
“We need a single global order,” Macron said to applause from business leaders.
Ahead of events on Friday, Chinese leader Xi met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday, the first meeting between leaders of the two countries in almost three years. Both sides called for more cooperation after communication broke down over issues from Taiwan to the disputed islands.
Xi also met with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos – to underscore the importance of regional ties for China. They complemented a series of bilateral meetings during Xi’s second trip abroad since the pandemic began and his first since a norm-breaking third term as China’s leader.
Unlike at the G20 earlier this week, Xi will not join APEC and will have to sit opposite Biden, who left Asia for a family event on Wednesday and handed over the American mission in Bangkok to Vice President Kamala Harris.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will also not be present but will send a representative, having already skipped the G20 and meetings surrounding the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia last week.
Asked about the potential for consensus at the upcoming summit of leaders after a meeting of APEC foreign ministers on Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed optimism.
“Far from splitting along one line or another, I think we’re seeing increasing convergence between all countries on the critical issues that really matter in the lives of our citizens… I think you’ll see that you’re in coming out of Bangkok in the next 24 hours or so, important steps forward that we are taking together,” he said.