President Xi Jinping hailed China as the pivot point for global free trade Thursday, vowing to keep its "super-sized" economy open for business and warning against protectionism as the world battles the COVID-19 pandemic.
Buoyed by the signing of the world’s largest trade pact over the weekend, Xi said the Asia-Pacific is the "forerunner driving global growth" in a world hit by "multiple challenges."
He vowed "openness" to trade and rejected any possibility of the "decoupling" of China's economy, in his only nod to the hostile trade policy of US President Donald Trump's administration, which has battered China with tariffs and tech restrictions.
Xi was speaking at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, held online this year because of the pandemic, which brings together 21 Pacific Rim countries, accounting for about 60 percent of global GDP.
In a speech that veered into triumphalism over China's economic "resilience and vitality" in bouncing back from the virus, which first emerged in the central city of Wuhan, Xi warned countries who insist on trade barriers would suffer self-inflicted wounds. (AFP_