WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Chinese President Xi Jinping warned Thursday against letting tensions in the Asian-Pacific region cause a relapse into a Cold War mentality.
On the sidelines to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum’s annual summit, he spoke weeks after Australia and Britain announced a new security partnership in the region that would see Australia develop nuclear submarines. China strongly criticized the agreement.
Xi addressed a video conference at APEC’s CEO Summit. It was recorded by New Zealand and is held in a virtual format. Xi has been scheduled to take part in an internet meeting with Pacific Rim leader Joe Biden, the U.S. president on Saturday.
Xi stated in his speech that attempts to create boundaries within the region along ideologic or geopolitical lines will fail.
“The Asia-Pacific region cannot and should not relapse into the confrontation and division of the Cold War era,” Xi said.
Xi stated that it was important for the region to maintain supply lines and promote trade and investment.
“China will remain firm in advancing reform and opening up so as to add impetus to economic development,” he said.
He said that the most urgent task for the region was to put in an effort to eradicate the pandemic as quickly as possible.
Amal Clooney, a human rights lawyer and activist spoke at the summit. She stated that she believes liberal democracies can improve international rights through pressure on autocratic countries. Her remarks included the belief that businesses should also be involved.
In all, APEC members account for nearly 3 billion people and about 60% of the world’s GDP. Deep tensions still run through this unlikely grouping of 21 countries and territories, which includes the U.S. and China.
Many Asian countries seek to offset U.S. influence on geopolitical and economic fronts.
China holds vast areas in the South China Sea and others. As part of its historical claims, it has made moves to build islands and establish military bases.
Both Taiwan and China have applied to join a Pacific Rim trade pact, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, with Beijing saying it will block Taiwan’s bid on the basis that the democratically governed island refuses to accept that it’s part of communist-ruled China.
Uncertain if all APEC countries would support the U.S. hosting the 2023 round.
New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said Wednesday that APEC was founded on consensus and that there was not yet a confirmed host for 2023.
Officials say they have made significant progress during some 340 preliminary meetings leading up to this week’s leaders’ meeting. APEC countries agreed to lower or eliminate tariffs and stop border delays on vaccines, masks, medical supplies and other products critical to combating the pandemic.