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China’s Xi says countries must abandon ‘Cold War mentality,’ warns against confrontation

Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Klaus Schwab listens to Chinese President Xi Jinping at the opening of the WEF Davos Agenda virtual sessions at the WEF’s headquarters near Geneva on January 17, 2022.
FABRICE COFFRINI | AFP | Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday called for countries to move away from a “Cold War mentality,” saying history has repeatedly shown that confrontation only invites disastrous repercussions.

His comments come at a time of simmering tensions between China and the U.S. over Taiwan and as fears escalate over a possible Russian incursion into Ukraine.

Speaking via videoconference at The Davos Agenda virtual event, Xi said: “We need to discard Cold War mentality and seek peaceful co-existence and win-win outcomes.”

“Our world today is far from being tranquil. Rhetorics that stoke hatred and prejudice abound. Acts of containment, suppression or confrontation arising thereof do all harm, not the least good to world peace and security,” he added, according to a translation.

“History has proved time and again that confrontation does not solve problems. It only invites catastrophic consequences. Protectionism and unilateralism can protect no one. They ultimately hurt the interests of others as well as one’s own. Even worse are the practices of hegemony and bullying, which run counter to the tide of history.”

Xi said the “right way forward for humanity is peaceful development and win-win cooperation.”

Beijing and Washington’s tense relationship over Taiwan has been identified as a top risk for Asia this year, while one of the region’s top experts has previously warned China’s “disturbing” crackdown on U.S.-listed China stocks could be interpreted as the early stages of a Cold War.

Economist Stephen Roach told CNBC in July last year that tensions between the U.S. and China could get to levels not seen since the early 1970s.

China claims Taiwan is part of its own territory and has been putting pressure on the democratic island to accept its rule. Taiwan’s leaders, conversely, argue it is a sovereign state.

A ‘safe and splendid’ Games

Xi’s special address at the World Economic Forum’s virtual event touched on a range of issues, including a call to embrace international cooperation to jointly defeat the coronavirus pandemic and a bid to reassure those concerned about the Beijing Winter Olympics.

Xi said he was confident of a “streamlined, safe and splendid” Games even as the country continues to implement a “zero-Covid” policy. The event is scheduled to start next month.

The Davos Agenda conference is taking place virtually after the World Economic Forum postponed its in-person annual gathering due to health and safety concerns over Covid-19.

— Don’t miss Geoff Cutmore’s discussion with ECB President Christine Lagarde, Brazilian Economy Minister Paulo Guedes, IMF MD Kristalina Georgieva and India’s Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati at 7.30 a.m. ET Friday. They’ll be discussing the “Global Economic Outlook” at the Davos Agenda. You can watch live here.

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