Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Nov 19 (efe-epa).- The president of China on Thursday made a fiery defense of economic openness and multilaterialism amid protectionism of other countries to ensure economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Protectionism and unilateralism are mounting. Yet China has not stalled in its pursuit of opening up. As a matter of fact, we have taken many policy steps to open the country still wider,” Xi Jinping said during his keynote address at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, hosted this year by Malaysia but held virtually due to the ongoing pandemic.
The president, who participated in a session prior to the leaders’ summit on Friday, denied that China was disconnected from the rest of the world economies and said that “mounting unilateralism, protectionism and bullying as well as backlash against economic globalization have added to risks and uncertainties in the world economy.”
“Openness enables a country to move forward, while seclusion holds it back. In today’s world where economic globalization has become an irreversible trend, no country can develop itself by keeping its doors closed,” he warned.
“China is already deeply integrated into the global economy and the international system. We will not reverse course or run against historical trend by ‘decoupling’ or forming a small circle to keep others out.”
Xi’s message contrasts with the protectionist measures taken by United States President Donald Trump, who is also invited to the summit, although he has not yet officially confirmed whether he will give a speech on Friday.
The Chinese president stressed that during the COVID-19 pandemic, China “has put people and life above everything else,” and reviewed the economic achievements of his country, which he said will “embark on a new journey toward fully building a modern socialist country” from next year.
This new phase, he added, will be based on the expansion of domestic demand, scientific and technological development and the deepening of reforms to stimulate the market.
China has gained influence in the region with the recent signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world’s largest trading bloc, which also includes Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
APEC, founded in 1989, consists of 21 member countries and accounts for nearly 60 percent of the global GDP as well as more than half of global trade.
It forms a market of 2.85 billion consumers – around 40 percent of the world’s population – and aims to establish a free trade zone among member economies by 2020.
APEC is made up of Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, South Korea, the United States, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. EFE-EPA