US president’s first in-person summit with a foreign leader expected to focus on Uighur issue and advanced technology.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for a fairer system of global governance, even as Beijing faces growing accusations from its own neighbours of “bullying” in the Asia-Pacific region.
Declaring the world “wants justice, not hegemony” Xi told delegates at the annual Boao Forum for Asia that “bossing others around or meddling in others’ internal affairs would not get one any support.”
The China-based forum is a gathering of political and business leaders intended as Asia’s answer to Davos.
“We must advocate peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom, which are common values of humanity, and encourage exchanges and mutual learning among civilisations to promote the progress of human civilisation,” Xi said.
Global affairs cannot be decided by just a few countries, he added in an address seen as an indirect jab at the United States, as the rivalry for global influence between the world’s two leading economies grows.
Xi also criticised efforts by some countries to “build barriers” and “decouple”, which he said would harm others and benefit no one.
In addition to a trade war initiated by former US President Donald Trump, the US has accused Chinese telecommunications giants such as Huawei of incorporating systems that allow Beijing to snoop on foreign competitors, something Huawei and Chinese authorities have denied.
On Friday, US President Joe Biden held his first face-to-face White House summit since taking office, in a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in which China topped the agenda.
In a display of economic cooperation to the exclusion of China, Biden said Japan and the US would jointly invest in areas such as the latest 5G telecommunications technology, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, genomics and semiconductor supply chains.
China and the US have also been clashing on issues ranging from Hong Kong to Taiwan and Xinjiang, all of which Beijing considers its own domestic affairs. The two countries have each sanctioned the other for perceived transgressions.
Washington has also accused Beijing of bullying in the disputed South China Sea, where it has established air and naval facilities on artificial islands and continues to build more despite concerns among other claimants to the sea.
China claims most of the South China Sea under its so-called “nine-dash line”, a claim that has been declared to have no legal basis by the International Court of Arbitration at The Hague.
The US and China are also at loggerheads over health, with the US accusing China of limiting access to information linked to the COVID-19 pandemic that has now killed more than three million people around the world.
In response, Xi assured political and business leaders gathered in Hainan on Tuesday that China would honour its commitment to ensuring vaccines are a global public good.
While the US has been accused of hoarding supplies, China has been donating its domestically produced vaccines to mostly developing countries around the world, in a move observers have dubbed “vaccine diplomacy”.
Xi said China would continue its anti-COVID-19 cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other countries and do more to help developing countries defeat the virus.
The US and China have found some common ground on climate with the two countries promising to work together to tackle the climate threat following meetings between US climate envoy John Kerry, and his Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenhua.
On Tuesday, Xi promised to step up efforts to address climate change and urged world leaders to “do more” to fulfil their obligations in the Paris Agreement.
“The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities must be upheld, and concerns of developing countries on capital, technology and capacity building must be addressed,” Xi said.
He did not specify the steps China was willing to undertake as it prepares to join this week’s climate summit hosted by Biden.