On Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned against “unilateralism” and the idea of one country imposing its will on other nations. While the US was not mentioned by name, the speech was clearly aimed at Washington.
“The destiny and future of the world should be decided by all nations, and rules set up just by one or several countries should not be imposed on others,” Xi said at the annual Boao Forum for Asia. “The whole world should not be led by unilateralism of individual countries.”
The US frequently accuses China of being a threat to the “rules-based international order,” which essentially means Beijing is a threat to US global hegemony.
“It is unpopular to arrogantly instruct others and interfere in internal affairs,” Xi added. In recent months, the US has taken unilateral action against China over its domestic affairs through sanctions. Most notably, last month, the US, UK, EU, and Canada coordinated sanctions on Chinese officials over alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
Xi also warned against a new Cold War. “People of all countries have more clearly realized that it is necessary to abandon the Cold War mentality and zero-sum game, and oppose any form of new Cold War and ideological confrontation.”
President Biden has framed the US relationship with China as an ideological confrontation. At a press conference in March, Biden said, “I predict to you, your children or grandchildren are going to be doing their doctoral thesis on the issue of who succeeded: autocracy or democracy? Because that is what is at stake, not just with China.”
US allies also use Cold War-style language when discussing the need to confront Beijing. Both the EU and NATO have released reports calling for more focus on Asia through cooperation with “like-minded” countries in the region.