President Xi Jinping of China spoke at the 70th United Nations General Assembly Monday, saying that no matter how powerful his country becomes, “China will never pursue hegemony or expansion.”
As leader of one of the planet’s most important and powerful nations, it is unsurprising, perhaps, that his speech echoed much of that of U.S. President Obama who had spoken earlier, but there were key distinctions that highlighted the differences in the countries’ mindsets.
Both promoted dialogue in conflict resolution, the work of the United Nations, climate change targets and peace, but Xi’s speech promoted equality above all bewteen nations.
While Obama said his country would not hesitate to restore world order with force if needed, Xi stressed the need to treat each other as equals. “Big countries should treat small countries as equals,” he said, saying “powerful countries should not bully smaller countries.”
They both talked about the interconnectedness of today’s world, “In the age of economic globalization the security of all nations is interlinked,” Xi said. He used metaphors to explain that countries should not adopt the “law of the jungle,” saying that countries choosing force will only find they “drop a rock on their own feet.”
Both presidents talked about business, but while Obama stressed the importance of free trade, hailing the upcoming Trans Pacific Partnership, Xi criticized the current type of capitalism promoted by the international markets.
“Global prosperity cannot be built on the shaky foundation of a market without restraints,” Xi said, adding that the current system is “unsustainable and unfair.” He said it is necessary to “use both the invisible hand and visible hand,” to manage economies to promote fairness.
“We should build partnerships in which countries treat each other as equals … the future of the world must be shaped by all countries,” Xi said, “We are ready to share our development experience with other countires and we enorage others to board China’s development train.”
“Consultation is an important form of democracy,” Xi said, saying that all cultures are valid and that there must be “dialogue rather than confrontation.”
On climate change, Xi said we should “follow nature’s ways,” and said China will shoulder its share of responsibility in this common endeavour. Xi stressed, however, that developed countries should remember the historical burden they may have and help developing nations meet targets.
Xi said China will donate a large sum of money to the African Union to help it respond to crises.