Chinese President Xi Jinping called Friday for stronger ties with ASEAN nations but made clear the country will not seek hegemony in Southeast Asia or bully smaller countries.
A speech to the region’s heads of state in Thailand follows President Donald Trump’s and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s decision to delay a historic summit. Although analysts and the two men have kept a relatively low profile as they work to keep talks on track, the summit earlier this week went well, they said.
“The world community will notice that China is going to play a responsible role and this should be a happy ending,” Xi said in a speech that covered all member nations in Southeast Asia.
“We will have more exchanges, more cooperation, more commitment, more determination and more courage,” he said.
In his speech, Xi took aim at Washington and Washington’s trade tensions with Beijing, saying the countries should look to cooperation to resolve differences.
He reiterated China’s stance that it is capable of maintaining its own stability and can protect the rights and safety of other countries. He said he would seek more exchanges of public opinion, voice views openly and fight for fair trade to bring about improvements.
“In the long run, confrontation will not bring either side any good. The correct choice should be cooperation and win-win,” he said.
China has presented the summit as a model of regional cooperation, designed to make the region strong and to fend off any U.S. attempts to rein in China’s growing economic and military might.
The region’s leaders, as they go into the summit, are looking to Xi to help set a positive tone. Image by: KIM CHANG-HOON/AFP/Getty Images
On Thursday, Trump and Xi decided to postpone the meeting and scheduled a new date for July 6.
At first, the White House said the decision came only after consultations with the president’s advisers, but later spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders acknowledged the risk that the summit could fail.
But the China-backed Association of Southeast Asian Nations said earlier this week that all parties were committed to holding a summit. Xi took the wraps off the outcome for the ASEAN leaders in his speech.
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