Chinese President Xi Jinping warns Asia-Pacific to return to Cold War tensions

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The Asia-Pacific region must not return to tensions during the Cold War, Chinese President Xi Jinping has said in a meeting with regional diplomats and business leaders.

In a videotaped video for the CEO Forum taking place alongside the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, Xi said the region should “be forward-looking, move forward and reject methods of discriminating and excluding others”.

“Attempts to draw ideological lines or form small circles on geopolitical grounds will definitely fail,” he said.

Xi’s comments were a clear reference to the United States’ efforts with allies and partners in the region – such as Australia – to reveal what Washington sees as China’s growing economic and military influence.

Australia is a member of several regional groups with the United States, including Quad with Japan and India, the ANZUS Alliance with New Zealand and the newly formed AUKUS Alliance with the United Kingdom.

Conflicting US diplomatic exchanges with China early in Joe Biden’s administration made some allies nervous.

U.S. officials believe that direct engagement with Xi is the best way to prevent the relationship between the world’s two largest economies from spiraling into conflict.

A date has not been announced for a scheduled meeting between Xi and Biden, but a person informed of the matter told Reuters that it was expected to be as soon as next week.

The Chinese military said on Tuesday that it conducted a combat readiness patrol in the direction of the Taiwan Strait, after its defense minister condemned a visit by a US congressional delegation to Taiwan.

The patrol focused on what the Chinese military said in a statement was “seriously incorrect” words and actions from “relevant countries” in the Taiwan issue and the activities of independence forces in Taiwan.

Across the strait tensions have risen in recent months, with Taiwan for a year or more complaining about repeated missions by China’s air force near the autonomous island that Beijing claims to be its own.

Former Prime Minister Paul Keating yesterday, the Australian government warned of being drawn into a military conflict over Taiwan.

Xi focuses on covid recovery and climate

Xi said that achieving economic recovery was the most urgent task for the region.

He added that countries must close the COVID-19 vaccination gap.

“We should translate the consensus that vaccines are a global public benefit into concrete measures to ensure their fair and equitable distribution,” he said.

The virtual CEO summit was part of a week-long series of APEC conferences that will culminate in a summit on Friday and Saturday, hosted entirely online by New Zealand.

Climate change has been a central item on the agenda at the summit, which takes place in parallel with the UN COP26 summit in Glasgow.

In stark contrast to the growing rhetoric between the two countries on security issues, the world’s two largest carbon dioxide emitters overnight released a joint statement outlining plans to work together to reduce emissions.

In his speech to the APEC summit, Xi emphasized the importance of tackling climate change to ensure sustainability and said that China would achieve its carbon neutrality goals within the time frame set by the country.

Reuters / ABC

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