President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia on Tuesday.
Speaking to business leaders and policymakers including Alibaba’s Jack Ma and IMF’s Christine Lagarde, Xi pledged to increase foreign investment into China and pursue free trade policies across the globe in an apparent rebuke to President Trump’s increasingly protectionist trade policies.
China and the United States are currently embroiled in a tit-for-tat trade war resulting in billions of dollars of tariffs and leaving key sectors in both countries affected.
China maintains that it wants to pursue trade policies that would benefit both countries while the Trump administration says that it is trying to correct years of unfair trade practices by Beijing.
No room for “Cold War mentality”
On Tuesday, Xi said China’s reform and opening up will definitely succeed and that a Cold War mentality, zero-sum thinking, and isolationism would hit walls.
Xi said that opening brings progress, while closure would lead to backwardness.
State Media and think tank editorials from China have criticized the United States for entrenching itself in cold war mentality and protectionism.
Xi added that in a world aspiring for peace and development, the cold-war and zero-sum mentality look even more out of place.
“Putting oneself on a pedestal or trying to immune oneself from adverse developments will get nowhere,” said Xi.
Xi said humanity has a major choice to make between openness and isolation, and between progress and retrogression.
“We must dispel the clouds to see the sun, as we say in Chinese, so as to have a keen grasp of the law of history and the trend of the world,” said Xi.
Alluding to the tariff situation and accusations by the Trump administration that China enjoys having a trade surplus with the US, Xi countered that, “China does not seek trade surplus; we have a genuine desire to increase imports and achieve a greater balance of international payments under the current account.”
Belt and Road Initiative
Xi also attempted to dispel fears that China’s Belt and Road Initiative, now spanning dozens of countries across three continents, was not an attempt at increasing Beijing’s sphere of influence.
China has no geopolitical calculations, seeks no exclusionary blocs and imposes no business deals on others, the president said.
“It must be pointed out that as the BRI is a new initiative, it is perfectly natural for there to be different views in cooperation. As long as the parties embrace the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, we can surely enhance cooperation and resolve differences,” he said.
“This way, we can make the BRI the broadest platform for international cooperation in keeping with the trend of economic globalization and to the greater benefit of all our peoples,” Xi said.