Chinese President Xi warns of Cold War-era tensions

By: AFP      Published: 07:37 AM, 11 Nov, 2021
Chinese President Xi warns of Cold War-era tensions
Chinese President Xi Jinping reviewing troops from a car during a military parade in Hong Kong.–AFP (File photo)

Chinese President Xi Jinping warned on Thursday against a return to Cold War-era tensions in the Asia-Pacific, urging greater cooperation on pandemic recovery and climate change.

Amid growing tensions with the United States over Taiwan, partially offset by a surprise deal between Beijing and Washington on climate, Xi said all countries in the region must work together on joint challenges.

"Attempts to draw ideological lines or form small circles on geo-political grounds are bound to fail," he told a virtual business conference on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

"The Asia-Pacific region cannot and should not relapse into the confrontation and division of the Cold War era."

The Chinese leader called for a joint effort to close the "immunisation gap", making Covid-19 vaccines more accessible to developing nations. 

"We should translate consensus that vaccines are a global public good into concrete actions to ensure their fair and equitable distribution," he told the New Zealand-hosted summit.

Xi said countries should step up cooperation in research, production, testing, and mutual recognition of vaccines, "to emerge from the shadow of the pandemic and achieve steady economic recovery at an early date".

China on Wednesday said it had reached an understanding with the United States at a summit in Glasgow on climate change, a key area on which the Biden administration sees the potential for cooperation.

Xi did not mention the US deal directly but said "all of us can embark on a path of green, low-carbon sustainable development".

- 'Green development' -

"Together, we can usher in a future of green development," he said.

"China will stay committed to promoting win-win cooperation and contribute to the economic development of the Asia-Pacific region."

The global warming pact came ahead of expected virtual talks between Xi and US President Joe Biden, reportedly to be held as soon as next week.

It also came at a time of rising tension in the Asia-Pacific.

Beijing has ramped up military activities near Taiwan, a self-ruling democracy claimed by China, with a record number of planes intruding into the island's air defence identification zone in early October.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that the United States would ensure Taiwan can defend itself to avoid anyone "trying to disrupt the status quo by force".

China also claims almost all of the resource-rich South China Sea, through which trillions of dollars in shipping trade pass annually, rejecting competing claims from Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

Against that backdrop, the United States, Britain and Australia announced in September that they had formed a new alliance -- AUKUS -- under which Australia will acquire nuclear-powered submarines using US technology.

Although delivery is years away and China was not specifically named, the announcement angered China and separately sparked a furious row with France which saw its previously negotiated contract for selling Australia conventional submarines torn up.

Communist Party meeting set to seal Xi's legacy

Top Communist Party leaders will wrap up a key meeting in Beijing on Thursday that is expected to cement President Xi Jinping's legacy in Chinese history books.

Xi, the uncontested leader of the world's most populous nation, has been heading a pivotal plenary of the ruling party's top figures since Monday, gathering some 400 Communist Party elite in the Chinese capital.

Xi had opened the meeting of the powerful Central Committee on Monday with a work report and "explanations on a draft resolution on the major achievements and historical experience" for the party through its 100-year history, state news agency Xinhua said.

This year's plenum paves the way for the 20th party congress next autumn, at which Xi is widely expected to be handed a third term in office, securing his position as China's most powerful leader since Mao Zedong.

Analysts say the resolution -- only the third of its kind in the party's history -- will help Xi shore up his grip on power by setting in stone his vision for China ahead of next year's congress.

Xi's tenure has been marked by a sprawling anti-corruption crackdown, repressive policies in regions like Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong, and an increasingly assertive approach to foreign relations.

He has also created a leadership cult that has quashed criticism, stamped out rivals and introduced his own political theory -- dubbed Xi Jinping Thought -- to school students.

Xinhua this week described Xi as "undoubtedly the core figure in charting the course of history".

Like all meetings of China's secretive top leadership, the four-day event has been held behind closed doors.

Decisions made at the meeting are likely to be released in an official readout later on Thursday, ahead of a press conference Friday morning.

The plenary meeting comes alongside a flurry of international diplomatic activity.

Beijing and Washington announced a surprise climate pact at the COP26 summit on Wednesday -- appearing to dampen recent soaring tensions -- and Xi and US President Joe Biden are expected to hold a video conference in the near future.

However, Xi also warned Thursday of "Cold War-era" tensions in the Asia-Pacific region during a speech on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, with ongoing tensions over Taiwan.

"Attempts to draw ideological lines or form small circles on geo-political grounds are bound to fail," he told a virtual business conference in thinly veiled comments aimed at the United States.

Beijing also hit out this week at a visit by US lawmakers to self-ruled Taiwan, which China views as its territory.

AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.