China does not seek global domination, president Xi Jinping says in landmark speech

Concerns have been raised over Beijing's 'long arm of influence'

Samuel Osborne
Tuesday 18 December 2018 17:20
Comments
Xi Jinping said no one can 'dictate' China's economic development path
Xi Jinping said no one can 'dictate' China's economic development path

China does not seek global domination, Xi Jinping has insisted, amid global concerns over the country’s growing economic influence.

The president said China would not develop ”at the expense of other countries’ interests” during a speech to mark 40 years of market reforms.

China’s expanding reach worldwide — from Asia-Pacific to Africa and beyond through a broad network of infrastructure projects called the Belt and Road Initiative — has led some nations to raise concerns over what they call China’s long arm of influence, which has been criticised for being political as well as economic.

But while President Xi said China was “increasingly approaching the centre of the world stage", he also noted the country pursues a defensive national defence policy.

“China’s development does not pose a threat to any country,” he said. “No matter how far China develops, it will never seek hegemony.”

During a speech lasting nearly an hour-and-a-half, the Chinese president chronicled the country’s recent achievements, giving special credit to former leader Deng Xiaoping, whose reforms Mr Xi said saved China from the brink of economic collapse following the tumultuous Cultural Revolution.

Other celebrations of reform and opening up have been criticised by scholars for downplaying the role of Deng, widely considered the architect of the changes, in order to elevate Mr Xi.

But this time around Mr Xi spared no praise for Deng, as he began by remarking on the significance of 1978 — the year Deng implemented his first reforms.

During the ceremony, 100 individuals were recognised as pioneers of reform. The eclectic slate included NBA player Yao Ming, Alibaba founder Jack Ma and Nobel prizewinning scientist Tu Youyou. They received their medals to the tune of “Story of Spring,” a patriotic ballad paying tribute to Deng.

China comments on Huawei arrest in Canada

Throughout, Mr Xi emphasised the absolute rule of the Communist Party and its upholding of Chinese sovereignty.

“No one is in a position to dictate to the Chinese people what should or should not be done,” he said. “We will resolutely reform what can and needs to be reformed, and we will resolutely uphold what cannot and does not need to be changed.”

The address will not assuage concerned private entrepreneurs and foreign businesses, who had hoped Mr Xi would use the occasion to announce concrete industry-opening measures to shift dominance away from state corporations.

China’s push to dominate the high-tech industry by 2025 is a sore point with Washington and a contributing factor in trade tensions that have seen the world’s two largest economies slap billions of dollars in punitive tariffs on each other’s products this year.

In a move welcomed by global stock markets, Donald Trump agreed on 1 December to postpone more US tariff hikes on Chinese imports for 90 days while the two sides negotiate over American complaints about Beijing’s technology policy.

Additional reporting by Reuters

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in