Chinese leader Xi warns of ‘cold war’ in Asia-Pacific

WELLINGTON – Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday warned against letting tensions in the Asia-Pacific region cause a relapse into a Cold War mentality.

His remarks on the sidelines of the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum summit came weeks after the United States, Britain and Australia announced a new security alliance in the region that would see Australia build nuclear submarines. China has severely criticized the deal.

Xi spoke in a pre-recorded video at an APEC CEO Summit, which is hosted by New Zealand in a virtual format. Xi is expected to participate in an online meeting with other Pacific Rim leaders on Saturday, including US President Joe Biden.

In his speech, Xi said attempts to draw borders in the region along ideological or geopolitical lines would fail.

“The Asia-Pacific region cannot and must not fall back into the confrontation and division of the Cold War era,” Xi said.

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Xi also said the region should make sure to keep supply lines functioning and continue to liberalize trade and investment.

“China will stand firm in advancing reforms and opening up to boost economic development,” he said.

The most urgent task in the region is to make every effort to fight the pandemic and come out of its shadow as quickly as possible, he said.

Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney also spoke at the CEO summit, saying she believed liberal democracies could improve human rights around the world by putting pressure on autocratic nations. She said businesses need to play a role as well.

In total, APEC members represent nearly 3 billion people and around 60% of global GDP. But deep tensions run through the unlikely group of 21 nations and territories including the United States, China, Taiwan, Russia and Australia.

Many countries in Asia are struggling to balance Chinese and American influences on the economic and geopolitical fronts.

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China claims large parts of the South China Sea and other areas and has decided to establish a military presence, building islands in some disputed areas as it asserts its historic claims.

Taiwan and China have both asked to join a Pacific trade pact, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, with Beijing saying it will block Taiwan’s candidacy on the grounds that the democratically ruled island refuses to accept that. it is part of the communist regime. ruled China.

And it’s still unclear whether all APEC members will support the United States’ bid to host the APEC meeting series in 2023.

New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said on Wednesday that APEC was founded on consensus and that there was no confirmed host yet for 2023.

Officials say they have made significant progress in the roughly 340 preliminary meetings leading up to this week’s leaders’ meeting. APEC members have agreed to reduce or eliminate many tariffs and border blocks on vaccines, masks and other important medical products to fight the pandemic.

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