On Monday, Chinese leader Xi Jinping spoke of a “new Cold War” brought on by nations sanctioning and cutting ties with one another, and called on nations to end it.
During a virtual meeting of the Davos World Economic Forum, Xi said, “To build small circles or start a new Cold War, to reject, threaten or intimidate others, to willfully impose decoupling, supply disruption or sanctions, and to create isolation or estrangement will only push the world into division and even confrontation. We cannot tackle common challenges in a divided world, and confrontation will lead us to a dead end.”
In the place of unilateralism and trade disputes between nations, Xi called for nations to embrace multilateralism and “to act on the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind.”
While not explicitly naming the U.S. or any specific leaders, Xi’s comments follow numerous economic challenges to China under former President Donald Trump. The U.S. sanctioned China for a range of issues, including human rights abuses against China’s Uyghur population, China’s legislative takeover of Hong Kong, and Chinese claims to the disputed South China Sea. Along with the U.S., other nations have also raised challenges to China’s claims in the South China Sea. Throughout the last several months of the Trump administration, the U.S. sought to form an alliance of democratic nations to counter China’s influence around the world.
Xi went on to say “Differences in history, culture and social system should not be an excuse for antagonism or confrontation, but rather an incentive for cooperation. We should respect and accommodate differences, avoid meddling in other countries’ internal affairs, and resolve disagreements through consultation and dialogue. History and reality have made it clear, time and again, that the misguided approach of antagonism and confrontation, be it in the form of cold war, hot war, trade war or tech war, would eventually hurt all countries’ interests and undermine everyone’s well-being.”
Xi said, “We should reject the outdated Cold War and zero-sum game mentality, adhere to mutual respect and accommodation, and enhance political trust through strategic communication.”
Prefacing his comments, Xi noted the spread of the global COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic as an example where nations need to cooperate. Cases of the disease were first discovered in Wuhan, China. China has faced criticism for its handling of the virus early on, including for punishing whistleblowers and medical experts and downplaying the coronavirus threat.