- Xi Jinping on Thursday warned against fostering a Cold War in the Asia-Pacific region.
- “The Asia-Pacific region cannot and should not relapse into the confrontation and division of the Cold War era,” Xi said.
- Tensions between the US and China have reached historic heights over the past year or so.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Thursday cautioned against fomenting a “Cold War” in the Asia-Pacific region, in comments that came ahead of a virtual meeting with President Joe Biden.
Xi’s remarks also came as the Biden administration vies to shore up alliances in the region to counter Beijing’s growing influence, including the recent announcement of a new security pact with Australia and the UK involving nuclear submarines – and amid ongoing tensions over the South China Sea and Taiwan.
“Attempts to draw ideological lines or form small circles on geopolitical grounds are bound to fail,” Xi said on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, per The Guardian. “The Asia-Pacific region cannot and should not relapse into the confrontation and division of the Cold War era,” he added.
China has increasingly accused the US of fostering a new Cold War as Biden has prioritized challenging Beijing, which has built its might by, in part, stealing US technology and is using it to bully neighbors. Biden earlier this year said the US and China were in a competition to win the 21st century, though he’s also repeatedly underscored that the US is not looking for conflict with the Chinese. Meanwhile, the Biden administration has gone after Beijing on everything from trade to human rights abuses.
Perhaps the most worrisome flashpoint is Taiwan, a democratically governed island where the world’s largest contract manufacturer of semiconductor chips is based. China, however, views Taiwan as a breakaway province and in early October sent record-numbers of military planes through its air defense identification zone in massive shows of force.
Biden recently said the US would defend Taiwan from an attack, a seeming break from long-standing policy that the Biden administration walked back. But Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday said the US and its allies would “take action” if Beijing attacked Taiwan.
But the US and China have signaled a willingness to work together on certain issues, and on Wednesday issued a surprising joint pledge to work together to thwart climate change over this decade. Just last week, Biden criticized Xi for not attending the UN’s climate summit in Glasgow. There are also fears the US and China will accelerate an arms race to develop hypersonic weapons able to evade all known defenses and carry nuclear warheads.
Biden and Xi are expected to hold a virtual summit on Monday, in what will mark the president’s first meeting with his Chinese counterpart since entering the White House in January.
Both Biden and Xi sent letters to the National Committee on US-China Relations this week in commemoration of its 55th anniversary, which signaled their openness to holding a dialogue despite the current tensions.
China’s ambassador to the US, Qin Gang, read Xi’s letter at a dinner for the occasion on Tuesday, stating, “Xi stressed that following the principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation, China stands ready to work with the US to enhance exchanges and cooperation across the board, jointly address regional and international issues as well as global challenges and, in the meantime, properly manage differences, so as to bring China-US relations back to the right track of sound and steady development.”
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