Chinese President Xi Jinping has directly accused the United States of leading other Western nations to suppress China’s development.
Xi’s remarks are a rare example of a Chinese leader singling out Washington, and are the latest sign of frustration by the Chinese leadership about the state of China-US relations.
“Western countries, led by the United States, have implemented all-round containment and suppression of China, which has brought unprecedented severe challenges to the country’s development,” Xi was quoted by state news agency Xinhua as saying. He was speaking in a panel discussion on the sidelines of China’s parliamentary session on Monday.
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The external environment for the country’s development had changed rapidly, and there was a significant rise in uncertainty and unpredictable factors, Xi said.
He said in the future “the risks and challenges we face will only increase and become more severe”.
Xi’s criticism came as tensions between China and the US showed no signs of cooling despite talks between their leaders.
A planned visit to China by the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in early February was called off in the heat of accusations that Beijing had been spying with a balloon – claims Beijing denied. It was followed by weeks of further accusations between the two powers, dashing hopes for a reset in their relations.
The US also asked Japan and the Netherlands to tighten export controls of chip manufacturing equipment and technologies to China, prompting Beijing to warn the two exporters not to disrupt the supply chain.
“In the face of profound and complex changes in the international and domestic environment, we must remain calm, maintain concentration, strive for progress while maintaining stability, take action, be united and dare to struggle,” Xi said.
A key agenda for the ongoing legislative sessions in China is to provide a strategy to cut reliance on the US. As part of that plan, the central government proposed on Sunday to raise science and technology spending by 2 percent in 2023 to 328 billion yuan (US$47 billion).
To that end, China will overhaul its mechanisms for allocating and using government research funds and will “grant scientists a greater say when it comes to determining technological road maps and spending research funds”, according to a budget report released by the Ministry of Finance.
Xi also stressed the importance of the private sector to China’s economy, and urged companies to strengthen innovation and play a bigger role in establishing technological independence. China would support technology platform companies to create jobs, expand consumption and compete globally, Xi said.
It is a long way from November when Xi and his US counterpart Joe Biden met for their face to face meeting in Biden’s presidency, during which both sides pledged to maintain communication.
At that meeting, Xi told Biden that Taiwan was the “very core of China’s core interest” and the “first red line” that must not be crossed. Xi also said suppression would only “boost the morale of the Chinese people” and starting a technology war undermined international trade rules.
In a separate panel discussion on the sidelines of the NPC on Sunday, Xi reiterated the need to achieve “technological self-reliance and advancement”.
“In the face of fierce international competition, we must carve out new tracks for development, create new momentum and develop new strengths … All these rely on technology, fundamentally,” Xi said.
“We must deepen scientific and technological reform, cultivate an innovative culture, improve the evaluation system and incentive mechanism and create a good environment for talent to stand out and expand capability.”
This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2023 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.
Copyright (c) 2023. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.