Despite South China Sea militarization, China's Xi wants to refrain from 'seeking dominance'

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — Taking aim at US President Donald Trump's policies against Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for a rejection of power politics in the global arena.

"We must refrain from seeking dominance and reject the 'zero-sum game,'" Xi said in his opening speech during the 2018 Boao Forum for Asia in China's southern Hainan province.

Trump earlier threatened to raise tariffs on Chinese imports to $100 billion, further escalating the trade war between the United States and China.

Xi's speech at the regional forum refers to economic policies but appears inconsistent with Beijing's actions in the disputed South China Sea.

"We must refrain from 'beggar-thy-neighbor' and reject power politics or hegemony where the strong blame the weak. Instead, we must properly manage differences and work together for enduring peace," the Chinese leader said.

Beijing has been installing military capabilities on its man-made islands in the South China Sea despite a 2016 arbitral ruling invalidating its nine-dash line claim in the region.

Washington had called out Beijing for "bullying" smaller nations with its militarization of the features in the disputed waterway.

Despite the 2016 arbitral ruling which concluded that China violated its commitment under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Beijing insisted indisputable sovereignty over the region.

The ruling of the UN-backed tribunal was in favor of the Philippines but the Duterte administration opted to hold a bilateral consultation mechanism with China, setting aside the landmark ruling.

In his speech before the Boao Forum, Xi called on other countries to "promote dialogue and shared responsibility."

"We should act on a vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and a sustainable security and firmly uphold the international order and system underpinned by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter," Xi said.

The Chinese leader also encouraged other nations to "engage in cooperation with win-win results."

"We need to treat each other with respect and as equals... and follow a new approach to state-to-state relations featuring dialogue rather than confrontation and partnership instead of alliance," he said.

Xi stressed that China would not attempt to "threaten anyone else" or to "alter the existing international system."

READ: Philippines could be hit worst in Southeast Asia by US-China trade spat

Philippine Ambassador to China Chito Sta. Romana warned that the developing trade war between the US and China would adversely affect the economy of the Philippines.

Sta. Romana said that there is a need for a call for the two countries to go back to the negotiating table.

"There are some reports that the Philippines could be adversely affected because some of our exports are part of the supply chain in the Chinese exports to the US. So there (is going to) be a negative impact on us and that's why we're very concerned about it," Sta. Romana told reporters in Hainan.

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