A few countries cannot set global rules, says Chinese President Xi Jinping

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a keynote speech via video for the opening ceremony of Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) annual conference, in Beijing on April 20, 2021.   | Photo Credit: AP

China’s President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday global rules cannot be imposed “by one or a few countries” and attempts to “decouple” would not benefit any nation.

He was speaking at the annual Boao Forum, a meeting known as China’s Davos and this year attended virtually by a number of Asian leaders, Chinese official media reported, including South Korea’s Moon Jae-in, Indonesia’s Joko Widodo, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Mr. Xi outlined China’s view of a world in flux and contained veiled criticisms appeared to be aimed the United States, although he did not name the country. He said “combined forces of changes and a pandemic both unseen in a century have brought the world into a phase of fluidity and transformation” with “instability and uncertainty clearly on the rise.”

“That said, there is no fundamental change in the trend toward a multi-polar world; economic globalisation is showing renewed resilience; and the call for upholding multilateralism and enhancing communication and coordination has grown stronger,” he said, calling for countries “to uphold true multilateralism” and “safeguard the UN-centered international system”.

His comments followed his remarks to the World Economic Forum at Davos in January, when he hit out at “small circles”, a reference that Chinese officials have subsequently used to describe U.S.-led groupings including the Quad, comprising India, the U.S., Japan and Australia. Chinese officials have rejected the Quad calling for a “rules-based order” to ensure a “free and open” Indo-Pacific region.

On Tuesday, Mr. Xi said, “We must not let the rules set by one or a few countries be imposed on others, or allow unilateralism pursued by certain countries to set the pace for the whole world.” “What we need in today’s world is justice, not hegemony. Big countries should behave in a manner befitting their status and with a greater sense of responsibility,” he added.

He said China would continue to take forward its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), including for joint vaccine production that had begun with BRI partners including Indonesia, Brazil, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Pakistan and Turkey. With a push to deepen connectivity, he said China will “promote ‘hard connectivity’ of infrastructure and ‘soft connectivity’ of rules and standards”.

While China is advocating for its own rules and standards under the ambit of the BRI, including in new emerging areas such as 5G, the U.S. has pushed for its allies and partners to seek alternatives. Last month, President Joe Biden said he had suggested to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that democratic countries should explore coming up with an alternative to the BRI.

In its first leaders’ summit last month, the Quad countries announced a joint vaccine initiative as well as plans to coordinate standards in critical and emerging technologies. The India-U.S.-Australia-Japan grouping agreed to set up a Quad Critical and Emerging Technology Working Group, recognising that “a free, open, inclusive, and resilient Indo-Pacific requires that critical and emerging technology is governed and operates according to shared interests and values.”

The working group will facilitate coordination on technology standards development, including between respective national technology standards bodies, as well as joint plans on telecommunications deployment and building critical technology supply chains.

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 7:39:48 PM |

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