Xi Jinping: China will not seek to dominate

Chinese President Xi Jinping

Chinese President Xi Jinping

Chinese President Xi Jinping has vowed that his country will not develop at the expense of other nations, in a speech marking 40 years since China introduced major economic reforms.

However, he also said that the global superpower would not be told what to do by anyone.

Late leader Deng Xiaoping’s campaign of “reform and opening up” began four decades ago.

The resulting growth has made China the second-largest economy in the world.

Hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty but in recent years China has struggled with mounting debt and slowing economic growth.

Mr Xi said despite his country’s economic achievements, China would “never seek global hegemony” and also highlighted its contributions towards a “shared future for mankind”.

He did not mention the current trade dispute with the United States.

China continues to crack down on political dissent and is accused of locking up hundreds of thousands of Muslims without trial in the western region of Xinjiang.

Its militarisation of islands in the South China Sea – home to vital shipping lanes – has sparked concerns among Asian neighbours that it seeks to dominate the region.

Critics also say that while China is helping to build much-needed infrastructure across Asia and Africa, it is saddling countries with billions in debt in a bid to gain strategic influence.

Mr Xi spent much of his lengthy speech listing examples of China’s progress over the past decades, praising them as “epic achievements that moved heaven and Earth”.

He said that given its success, “no-one is in a position to dictate to the Chinese people what should or should not be done”.

At the same time, he stressed what he described as Chinese efforts to work towards the greater global good, saying Beijing was a “promoter of world peace”, a “defender of international order” and holding “a leading role in dealing with climate change”.

China’s economic reform was initiated by then leader Deng Xiaoping in 1978 and the programme was ratified on December 18 that year.

The reform path turned the country away from the old-style communism of Mao Zedong when collectivisation had led to an impoverished and inefficient economy.

The transformation focused on agricultural reform, private sector liberalisation, industry modernisation and opening to international trade.

Xi Jinping described the reforms as a “break from the shackles” of previous mistakes. -BBC

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