Chinese President Xi Jinping warned global leaders at a virtual Davos forum on Monday against launching a “new cold war” and called for global unity in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
After largely limiting the spread of the pandemic within its borders, Xi wants to position China as a key player in a new multilateral world order, as the United States is still paralyzed by the pandemic.
“Building small cliques or starting a new Cold War, rejecting, threatening or intimidating others … will only drive the world into fragmentation,” Xi said in a likely covert attack on US President Joe Biden’s plans to revive global alliances. to counter China’s growing influence.
In a sweep of movements directed at China launched by the former US government under President Donald Trump, Xi said the confrontation “will always end up harming the interests of every nation and sacrificing the welfare of the people.”
The Chinese leader also confirmed that Beijing’s ambitious climate promises to reduce CO2 emissions by 65 percent by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 – both important commitments as China emits a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gases.
“Achieving these goals will require enormous hard work from China. But we believe that when the interests of all mankind are at stake, China must move forward, take action and get the job done,” he said.
Xi also called for stronger global governance through multilateral organizations, the removal of barriers to international trade, investment and technological exchange, and stronger representation on the world stage for developing countries.
He stressed the importance of strengthening macroeconomic policies to combat the pandemic-induced global economic downturn.
“We must build an open world economy, firmly protect the multilateral trading system and refrain from making discriminatory and exclusive standards, rules and systems as well as high walls that separate trade, investment and technology,” he said.
China saw its GDP increase by 2.3 percent last year, according to official data – the lowest growth rate since 1976 – but it is still expected to be the only major economy to have expanded during the pandemic-ravaged year.
Its economy is also expected to grow by 7.9 percent in 2021, according to the International Monetary Fund – trimmed from initial predictions of a harsh geopolitical climate, global economic downturn and risks from a messy technical decoupling from the United States.
It also surpassed the United States as the world’s largest recipient of foreign direct investment by 2020, according to a UN report released on Sunday.
Strengthened by confidence in the country’s handling of the pandemic, Xi has made ambitious climate ceilings and promised to maintain multilateralism as the United States and China entered their worst phase in decades under the Trump administration.
But the Chinese government has been accused of dealing with the first Covid-19 outbreak and covering up information, while a group of experts from the World Health Organization is currently conducting a long-delayed investigation into the virus’ origin.
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How Biden decides to deal with the growing tensions posed by China’s rise will be one of the biggest strategic challenges he faces.
Under Trump, China and the United States dealt with issues across a wide range of issues, from viruses to trade, media freedoms, human rights and technology competition.
Biden, busy dealing with several urgent domestic crises, did not attend Davos and gave US climate envoy John Kerry the mandate to represent Washington.
Xi most recently addressed Davos in 2017 and presented himself as the champion of free trade ahead of Trump’s inauguration.