China’s Xi Calls for Asia-Pacific Regional Peace as He Wraps Up US Trip

(Bloomberg) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping reiterated that his country will stick to a path of peaceful development as he wrapped his first visit to the US in six years, having eased tensions between the world’s top two economies.

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“The fundamental goal of China’s development is to improve the well-being of the Chinese people, not to replace anyone,” the state-run Xinhua News Agency cited him as saying in a Friday speech at the close of this week’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco.

The remarks echo his message in recent days. Xi said Wednesday that China wants friendship with the US and that his nation won’t fight a war with anyone, among his clearest remarks yet proclaiming a desire for peaceful ties between the world’s two largest economies.

In a speech to business executives shortly after meeting US President Joe Biden this week, Xi said China “never bets against the United States” and “has no intention to challenge the United States or to unseat it.”

On Friday, the Chinese leader also stressed that countries should “build an open, dynamic, strong, and peaceful Asia-Pacific community,” and called for an open and fair environment for technology development.

Xi will be leaving California after a broadly positive trip that saw agreement with Biden on better managing potential flare-ups. That could reduce the risk of a military crisis at a time when Xi is struggling with a major property-market slump and a shakeup in senior leadership positions.

The normally stolid Xi has projected a softer side this week. Hours after reminiscing with Biden over his first trip to the US nearly 40 years ago, Xi publicly accepted an NBA team’s jersey from California Governor Gavin Newsom and indicated Beijing would send pandas to US zoos.

“This has been a very successful visit,” said Jeremi Suri, a professor of public affairs and history at the University of Texas at Austin. “This visit, based on what Xi Jinping and Joe Biden have said, has lowered the temperature of tension and has encouraged at least a new dialogue about business cooperation, cooperation in military affairs and even cooperation around areas of crisis in the world.”

Critical Moment

Xi’s trip to the US came at a critical moment: China’s economy is slowing after decades of high-speed growth, while fraught ties with the West are driving away foreign capital and trade tensions with the US add risks.

Skepticism remains over how long the bonhomie will last. The US has shown no sign it will roll back export curbs throttling China’s access to crucial future technologies — one of the issues Beijing is most concerned about.

He restated that posture on Friday, reiterating opposition to “politicizing, weaponizing economic and trade issues and overstretching the concept of national security,” according to the state media reports.

Xi also called for development to be restored to “the center of the international agenda,” repeating a call he made a day earlier at the APEC leaders’ meeting for countries to “forge a political consensus” to “focus” on growth.

Chinese officials including Xi have been trying to downplay the US position that their two nations are competitors during meetings in San Francisco. Instead, they’ve repeatedly stressed collaboration should be the theme of bilateral ties.

Xi also called on his counterparts to safeguard free, open trade and investment and maintain the stability of global industrial and supply chains.

--With assistance from Lin Cheng.

(Updates with expert’s comment, additional details.)

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