Asia-Pacific shouldn’t be arena for ‘big power contest,’ Xi says

CHINESE President Xi Jinping said the Asia-Pacific was “no one’s backyard” in written remarks to an economic summit in Thailand, in which he pitched his vision for greater regional cooperation on development and security.

Xi’s speech was released to a gathering of business executives shortly after he arrived for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings in Bangkok. The gathering came as part of a flurry of diplomacy for the Chinese president including meeting US President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the Group of 20 meetings in Bali, Indonesia.

“The Asia-Pacific is no one’s backyard and should not become an arena for big power contest,” Xi said. “No attempt to wage a new cold war will ever be allowed by the power or by our times.”

The remarks appeared directed at the US, although Xi didn’t mention the nation by name. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi had used similar language earlier this year, while warning that the region shouldn’t become a place where China and the US confront each other.

During the summits in South-East Asia this week, Xi has held a series of high-profile meetings with international leaders with whom China has recently had tense relationships, including Biden and Australian Prime Minister (PM) Anthony Albanese. The Chinese leader is expected to meet Japanese PM Fumio Kishida later on Thursday.

Xi was due to speak at the APEC CEO Summit on Thursday afternoon but the speech at the in-person event was cancelled at the last minute due to “scheduling conflicts,” summit organisers said. In the written speech released after the announcement, Xi said the world had reached a “crucial stage of post-Covid recovery” and called for the creation of “stable and unimpeded” supply chains.

Xi used the speech to pitch his vaguely defined initiatives for regional security and development, and touted a Chinese path for modernisation, which Chinese officials have promoted as an alternative for the developmental path of the West.

“The modernization of China, a country with over 1.4 billion people, will be of epoch-making importance in human history,” Xi said. He added that he has put forward the “Global Development Initiative for the very purpose of addressing imbalance in development.”

In an apparent call for an alternative to counter the US influence in the region, Xi called for building a regional security architecture “to create conditions for ensuring economic development and durable peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific,” Xi said, without elaborating. – BLOOMBERG