Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Monday warned new U.S. President Joe Biden not to marshal Europe into an alliance against Beijing, saying that any attempt to freeze China out of global trade and technology networks risked reigniting the Cold War.
Xi’s virtual address to the World Economic Forum comes as China is making a show of power and setting out its red lines to the new American leader. Over the weekend, Taiwan reported a large incursion by Chinese bombers and jet fighters for two days in a row.
While Biden’s team has called for the formation of an alliance of democracies to confront China’s economic model, Xi cautioned against the dangers of such an approach.
“Forming small groups or launching new cold wars on the world stage; excluding, threatening and intimidating others; resorting to decoupling, supply disruption or sanctions … would only push the world towards division, if not confrontation,” Xi said.
“Repeatedly, history and the reality reminded us that, if we walk down the path of confrontation — be it a cold war, a hot war, a trade war or a tech war — all countries are going to suffer in terms of their interests and their people’s well-being,” he added.
Xi’s pre-recorded speech came a day after the White House said Biden and his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, talked on the phone and “agreed to work together on shared foreign policy priorities, including China.”
The prospect of greater transatlantic collaboration in relation to Beijing has prompted China to make some pre-emptive moves, most prominently by offering EU countries unprecedented market access in a comprehensive investment agreement last month.
Shortly after Biden won the U.S. presidential election in November, the EU proposed teaming up with his administration to squeeze China out of the global technology trade.
The European Commission subsequently proposed a “Transatlantic Trade and Technology Council” to set joint standards on new technologies, in a bid to prevent China from establishing economic dominance across a number of high-value sectors by developing its own widely used technological and industrial standards.
Xi shot back at the assertion, saying: “The fruit of technology should benefit the whole of humanity, but not become the tools to restrict and suppress the development of other countries.”
Over the weekend, Biden made phone calls to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Macron. On both occasions, he brought up the need for the U.S. to work with Europe on China policy.
Also on Monday, Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi virtually attended a meeting of EU foreign ministers, where he indirectly criticized China’s role in the Indo-Pacific region.
He noted the worsening situation of democracy and human rights in the region as well as the security challenges in the East China Sea and South China Sea, according to the Japanese foreign ministry.
“We welcome the growing interest in the Indo-Pacific in Europe,” he added.
Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, told a press conference that EU foreign ministers also discussed China’s crackdown on the democracy movement in Hong Kong with Motegi.
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