China’s Xi calls for unity in first remarks of Biden era, warns against ‘arrogant isolation’

Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Jan. 22, 2021.

Shen Hong | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday urged the international community to put their differences to one side, warning that history has shown countries that choose to go it alone “will always fail.”

Speaking via videoconference as he addressed the annual World Economic Forum, Xi discussed global challenges such as the coronavirus crisis and the climate emergency.

“As we cope with the current crisis and endeavor to make a better day for everyone, we need to stand united and work together,” he said.

“We have been shown time and again that to beggar thy neighbor, to go it alone and to slip into arrogant isolation will always fail. Let us all join hands and let multilateralism light our way toward a community with a shared future for mankind,” Xi added, according to translated remarks.

The comments come less than a week after the inauguration of President Joe Biden, with external onlookers closely monitoring how a change in U.S. leadership may impact strained diplomatic relations.

Biden is widely expected to maintain pressure on Beijing over a wide range of issues, including human rights, trade policy, territorial disputes and questions over China’s initial response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a move analysts said was designed to test the level of Biden’s support for Taiwan, Chinese air force planes reportedly entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone for a second consecutive day over the weekend.

China sees the democratic and self-governed island of Taiwan as its territory and insists it has no right to participate in international diplomacy on its own. Taiwan sees itself as a sovereign state.

In the first statement on Taiwan since Biden came to power last week, the U.S. State Department on Saturday reaffirmed its “rock-solid” commitment to helping it defend itself.

The World Economic Forum, which has been criticized in the past for being out of touch with reality, is being held online this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. A physical congregation of business chiefs, political thinkers and global heads of state is scheduled to take place in Singapore in May.

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