China’s president, Xi Jinping said Beijing won’t be told what to do, in a veiled jab at US demands amid the ongoing trade war.
“No-one is in a position to dictate to the Chinese people what should or should not be done,” Mr Xi said in a highly anticipated speech to mark 40 years since landmark economic reforms.
Speaking at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, he said a country the size of China – 1.4 billion people with a $13 trillion economy – can only grow by paving its own way.
The president also addressed warnings over China’s growing power, suggesting Beijing should not seek to dominate the world order.
“China’s development does not pose a threat to any country,” he said. “No matter how far China develops, it will never seek hegemony.”
Mr Xi’s 1.5-hour speech seemed will be seen as an attempt to stifle criticism, particularly from the US, about Beijing’s ambition to grow global clout. Washington has demanded China allow for open, free markets and to play more fairly on the global stage, including halting corporate espionage.
Other nations have also sounded an alarm bell over China’s $1 trillion Belt and Road policy, an infrastructure investment plan meant to boost ties with other countries that critics say will lead to debt diplomacy.
But Mr Xi reminded that “the world needs China for global prosperity”, adding that the world’s second-largest economy would not develop “at the expense of other countries’ interests”.
The speech was an opportunity for Mr Xi to shore up confidence in Beijing’s ability to manage an economic slowdown. China, already experiencing its slowest pace of growth since the financial crisis, has fallen under further strain given trade tensions with the US.
But rather than take the opportunity to unleash concrete new economic policies, Mr Xi touted the party line by stressing that Communist Party strategies thus far were “absolutely correct”.
China has faced criticism for its over-emphasis and support of its notoriously wasteful and inefficient state-owned enterprises over the more innovative private sector.
“President Xi was perhaps unsurprisingly long on rhetoric and short on details,” said Tom Rafferty, regional manager for China at the Economist Intelligence Unit.
“There will be a disappointment … that Xi did not give clearer signals about the direction of future economic reform at a time when the Chinese government’s commitment to market liberalisation is seen to have waned,” Mr Rafferty wrote in a research note.
Still, Mr Xi made clear the Communist Party was in control, and would remain so in the foreseeable future, going so far as to say all ethnic groups should unite under the party umbrella, perhaps a nod to human rights concerns over China’s detention of one million Uighur Muslim minorities in concentration camps.
“Whether it’s the Party, the government, the army, ordinary people or students, the east, west, south, north, or the center, the Party leads everything,” Mr Xi said.
Source: The Telegraph.