Thu. May 26th, 2022

The Asia-Pacific region must not return to the tensions of the Cold War era, Chinese President Xi Jinping has told a meeting between regional diplomats and business leaders.

In a recorded video message to the CEO Forum taking place on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit (APEC), Mr Xi said the region should “be forward-looking, move forward and reject practices of discrimination and exclusion of others “.

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

Sir. Xi’s remarks were an apparent reference to the United States’ efforts with allies and partners in the region – such as Australia – to dull what Washington sees as China’s growing economic and military influence.

Australia is a member of several regional groupings 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.

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

U.S. officials believe direct engagement with Mr 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 Mr Xi and Mr Biden, but a person who was briefed on the matter told Reuters it was expected to be as soon as next week.

The Chinese military said on Tuesday it was conducting a combat patrol in the direction of the Taiwan Strait after its defense ministry condemned a visit by a U.S. congressional delegation to Taiwan.

The patrol was targeting what the Chinese military said in a statement were the “seriously wrong” words and actions of “relevant countries” on the Taiwan issue and the activities of pro-independence forces in Taiwan.

Tensions across the strait have been rising 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 is its own.

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

Xi focuses on COVID recovery and climate

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

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

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

The virtual CEO summit was part of a week-long series of APEC conferences culminating in a summit on Friday and Saturday held entirely online by New Zealand.

Climate change has been a key item on the agenda of the summit, which is taking 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 issued a joint statement overnight setting out plans to work together to reduce emissions.

In his speech to the APEC Summit, Mr Xi emphasized the importance of tackling climate change to ensure sustainability and said that China would achieve its CO2 neutrality targets within the timeframe it has set.

Reuters / ABC

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