Chinese leader Xi Jinping warns against the consequences of a 'new cold war' in first speech since Biden's inauguration

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John Haltiwanger
·3 min read
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Biden and Xi Jinping
Then Vice President Biden met with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a 2012 meeting in California. China now has the lead in 5G infrastructure, but experts say don't count Silicon Valley out yet. Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images
  • Chinese leader Xi Jinping preached about multilateralism at the World Economic Forum on Monday.

  • Xi warned about the consequences of a "new Cold War," in a veiled message to President Joe Biden.

  • "We cannot tackle common challenges in a divided world and confrontation will lead us to a dead-end," Xi said.

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

China's leader Xi Jinping on Wednesday emphasized the importance of multilateralism and urged against "arrogant isolation," in a speech to the international community at the annual World Economic Forum.

"We have been shown time and again that to beggar thy neighbor, to go it alone and to slip into arrogant isolation will always fail. Let us all join hands and let multilateralism light our way toward a community with a shared future for mankind," Xi said.

Without explicitly mentioning the US, the Chinese leader also warned against the dangers of a "new Cold War."

"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," Xi said.

"We cannot tackle common challenges in a divided world and confrontation will lead us to a dead-end," Xi added in his first speech to the global community since President Joe Biden was inaugurated.

Tensions between the US and China reached historic heights under former President Donald Trump, who waged a controversial trade war against Beijing and blamed the Chinese government for the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, experts warned that the US and China appeared to be on the brink of a new Cold War that could have major consequences for the global economy.

Biden has made challenging China on the global stage a key part of his foreign policy agenda. The new president and his advisors have expressed agreement with Trump's diagnosis of problems with China, while signaling a desire to take a less boisterous, unilateral approach to these issues.

Antony Blinken, Biden's nominee for secretary of state, during his Senate confirmation hearing last week said, "Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China." But Blinken added that he did not agree with all of Trump's methods.

Blinken at the time also said that he agreed with outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's assessment that China's treatment of the Uighurs in Xinjiang constituted "genocide. Under Xi's authoritarian regime, China set up "reeducation camps" where hundreds of thousands of predominantly Muslim Uighurs are imprisoned without trial, often for nothing more than appearing suspicious, and where they are reportedly subjected to torture, sexual assault, and medical experiments.

Though Xi preached a message of global cooperation on Monday that appeared to be a veiled overture to Biden, it came less than a week after the Chinese government announced sanctions against 28 former US officials and their families. China also flew warplanes close to Taiwan over the weekend, prompting the State Department to issue a statement.

"We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure against Taiwan and instead engage in meaningful dialogue with Taiwan's democratically elected representatives," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said, adding that the US commitment to Taiwan is "rock-solid."

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday said the Biden administration is "starting from an approach of patience as it relates to our relationship with China."

"That means we're going to have consultations with our allies ... with Democrats and Republicans, and we're going to allow the interagency process to work its way through," Psaki said.

Read the original article on Business Insider