DAVOS 2021: China's Xi Jinping fires warning shot about 'cold wars, hot wars, tech wars, trade wars'

Lianna Brinded
·Head of Yahoo Finance UK
·5-min read
China president Xi Jinping. Photo: WEF livestream
China president Xi Jinping. Photo: WEF livestream

China’s president Xi Jinping used his near-half an hour speech at the World Economic Forum (WEF) virtual gathering — The Davos Agenda — to unveil his four point plan on how the globe’s leaders need to unify more and put aside historical, cultural, and socially systemic differences to strengthen the world’s economy.

“Coronavirus shouldn’t be an excuse for de-globalisation,” he said to delegates at the virtual summit.

“The past year was marked by the sudden onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic and the world economy has been mired in deep recession and humanity crises rarely seen in human history. The pandemic is far from over... but winter cannot prevent the start of spring. Humanity will prevail over the virus... and emerge even stronger.”

The coronavirus pandemic has led to nearly 100 million COVID-19 cases and out of those, over 2 million have died.

Mainland China has had a total number of 89,115 confirmed COVID-19 cases and the death toll is at 4,635.

To put into perspective, the US, with a population of about 330 million, has had over 25 million cases of which half a million people have died of COVID-19. The UK, with a population of over 66 million people, has had over 3.6 million cases and over 90,000 deaths. Whereas countries that have been more successful in tackling the virus, such as New Zealand with a population of around 5 million, there have been just over 2,200 coronavirus cases of which only 25 people have died.

WATCH: What life is like in Wuhan 1 year after the lockdown

Data from China’s National Health Commission on Monday confirmed that there has been a climb in new COVID-19 cases driven by a spike in infections among previously symptomless patients. The total number of confirmed cases in the mainland rose to 124 on 24 January from 80 the previous day.

China’s economy in 2020 grew at its slowest annual growth rate since 1976.

However, when the world's second largest economy expanded 2.3% in 2020, compared to the previous year, this beat analyst expectations. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), forecasted that China's economy would grow 1.9% in 2020 and a spokesman for China's National Bureau of Statistics said "the performance was better than we had expected," when the data was released on 18 January.

President Xi said “history is moving forward and the world will not go back to the past,” and outlined four main points in what, he believes, will be essential for the globe to get back on track following the pandemic.

READ MORE: DAVOS 2021: COVID-19 crisis won't end until developing nations get vaccine

  • “Step-up macro-economic policy:” China’s president says that “we are going through the worst recession since World War II and all economies of all regions are being hit hard at the same time... with global industry clogged and despite trillions of dollars of relief packages, the global recovery is looking shaky and the outlook remains uncertain.” He believes that macro-economic support should be stepped up to “bring us out of woods.”

  • Abandon ideological prejudice and go on a path of peaceful coexistence:” He use a lot of his speech to delegates to reinforce his message that “no two leaves in the world are identical,” and that “each country is unique history, culture, and social system” and that “none is superior to another, and all three fit a particular situation.” He added that there is “no human civilisation without diversity and will difference in itself is no cause for alarm. Arrogance, prejudice or enforcing culture and social systems,” will further divide nations and derail global efforts. “The right choice is peaceful coexistence and expanding common ground and promote exchanges.”

  • “Close the divide of developing and developed nations:” He reinforced that tackling the pandemic and impact on the economy needs to make sure that developing nations are equally helped.

  • “Come together to fight against global challenges:” He repeatedly said that governments across the world need to join and converge, not divide, in order to truly tackle the virus and the impact on the world economy. “No global problem can be solved by one nation alone,” he said, and emphasised that all states should have equality in benefits in tackling issues.

WATCH: China works to contain new COVID-19 surge

After outlining his four points, he spent most of his speech repeating calls for multi-lateralism, decrying differing “history, culture, and social systems” holding back globalisation, and how structures and laws from the likes of the United Nations (UN) should guide the world back on track.

His speech can be seen as a warning shot for the new US president Joe Biden after years of tumultuous dealings with his predecessor Donald Trump.

During the Trump administration, China has been engaged in a trade war of tit-for-tat tariffs and large China-originating companies such as Huawei and social media giant TikTok have been under scrutiny and potential bans.

“Problems facing the world are intricate and complex, and the way out of [the current situation] is multi-lateralism and building a community with shared future of mankind. We should stay committed openness and inclusivity, instead of closedness and exclusivity.

“We need to be resonant and steadfast to safeguard multi-lateralism... and should not bully... by the waving big fist or as a pretext of unilateralism and the rules once made should be followed by all. We should stay committed against conflict and confrontation. Difference in history, culture and social system... should not [lead to and we should stop] meddling in a country’s internal affairs. Misguided antogonism and confrontation, leads to cold war, hot war, tech war, trade war, and undermines [global cohesion.]”