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China's Xi Jinping warns against protectionism in apparent swipe at US

China’s Xi Jinping Warns Against Protectionism in Apparent Swipe at US

BEIJING – Chinese President, Xi Jinping, has made China the hub of global free trade, promising to keep its “oversized” economy open and warning against protectionism in a global economy gutted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Supported by the signing of the world’s largest trade pact over the weekend, Xi said Asia-Pacific was the “forerunner of global growth” in a world hit by “multiple challenges,” including the coronavirus.
He promised “openness” to trade and dismissed any possibility of “decoupling” the Chinese economy – in his only comments pointing to the hostile trade policies of the US administration of Donald Trump, which has hit China with its tariff and technological restrictions.
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, in which Xi delivered his comments, was held online this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. It brings together 21 countries bordering the Pacific, including the two largest economies in the world, China and the United States, representing around 60% of global GDP.
It was not immediately clear whether Trump, hurt by his electoral loss to Joe Biden, would attend the summit or send a high-level delegate in his place.
In a speech that turned triumphalism over China’s economic “resilience and vitality” upon returning from the virus, Xi warned that countries that insist on trade barriers would suffer self-inflicted injuries.
“Openness allows a country to move forward while isolation holds it back,” he said.
“China will actively cooperate with all countries, regions and enterprises that wish to do so. We will continue to carry high the banner of openness and cooperation,” Xi said.
Xi’s remarks may raise eyebrows in capitals where China has restricted trade, imposed sudden lockdowns, or used its giant economy as a bargaining chip in larger geopolitical games.
In the APEC region, Australian exports, including beef, wine and barley, have been disrupted to their largest market in China, amid diplomatic rumbles over investigations into the origins of the pandemic and the allegations of espionage.
The APEC rally comes a week after China and 14 other Asia-Pacific countries signed the world’s largest free trade agreement.
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which excludes the United States, is seen as a major coup for China and further proof that Beijing is setting the global trade agenda as Washington pulls out.
RCEP’s rival was the Trans-Pacific Partnership – championed by former Barack Obama – but Trump pulled out and the pact was replaced with a watered-down alternative that the United States did not embrace.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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