Xi says China ‘will never seek hegemony,’ no matter how strong it becomes

Chinese President Xi Jinping attends the World Economic Forum WEF Virtual Event of the Davos Agenda and delivers a special address via video link in Beijing, capital of China, Jan. 25, 2021.

Li Xueren | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping said Tuesday his country will not pursue hegemony regardless of how powerful it becomes, and he called for a “more fair and equitable” global governance.

Beijing has increasingly clashed with the U.S. and other countries in the Asia-Pacific region and Europe on issues ranging from human rights to unfair trade practices. Those countries have raised concerns that China’s rising political and economic influence is threatening the global order.

“However strong it may grow, China will never seek hegemony, expansion or a sphere of influence, nor will China ever engage in an arms race,” Xi said at the opening ceremony of the annual Boao Forum for Asia in the Chinese province of Hainan.

Xi also claimed, not for the first time, that China is a champion for globalization and the multilateral trading system, saying that international rules should not be set by just one or a few nations.

China has itself engaged in unilateral trade sanctions against countries including Australia, after that country voiced support for an international inquiry into China’s handling of the coronavirus. The virus first surfaced in China in late 2019.

Without naming any countries, Xi said big nations should behave in a manner “befitting their status and with a greater sense of responsibility.”

He also spoke against a “Cold War” mentality and “ideological confrontation,” adding that any country that meddles in others’ internal affairs would not get any support.

Xi’s remarks came as U.S.-China relations are off to a rough start under the administration of President Joe Biden.

The United States, United Kingdom, Japan and others have spoken out against China on issues ranging from the autonomy of Hong Kong — a Chinese special administrative region — to allegations of serious human rights violations in western China. Beijing has accused Washington of meddling in its domestic affairs.

Last month, Biden said China has “an overall goal to become the leading country, the wealthiest country in the world and the most powerful country in the world.” The U.S. president said he will not let that happen under his watch.

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