Following his stirring defense of global capitalism at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping stopped by the United Nations office in Geneva for a wide-ranging speech in which he stressed that big countries ought not to pick on smaller ones.
“Big countries should treat smaller countries as equals instead of acting as a hegemon, imposing their will on others,” Xi declared in his 47-minute speech. He continued:
The essence of sovereign equality is that the sovereignty and dignity of all countries, whether big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, must be respected, their internal affairs allow no interference and they have the right to independently choose their social system and development path.
In organizations such as the United Nations, World Trade Organization, World Health Organization, World Intellectual Property Organization, World Meteorological Organization, International Telecommunication Union, Universal Postal Union, International Organization for Migration and International Labor Organization, countries have an equal voice in decision-making, constituting an important force for improving global governance.
In a new era, we should uphold sovereign equality and work for equality in right, opportunity and rules for all countries.
Much like his Davos speech criticizing economic protectionism, Xi words have struck some as contradictory to his government’s own actions.
Only a week ago, China issued its first white paper on issues related to Asia-Pacific security cooperation, proposing that “small- and medium-sized countries need not and should not take sides among big countries.” In the paper, China warned other nations not to infringe on its “territorial sovereignty” in the South China Sea and concluded that that China’s development would add to “the momentum for world peace.”
Back in November, Hong Kong customs seized nine Singapore armored troop carriers that were returning from military drills in Taiwan. For decades, Singapore had carried out annual military training exercises in Taiwan without incident. While Hong Kong customs have yet to announce why the vehicles were seized, some have pointed to the trend of Singapore increasingly turning to the United States for security aid over China.
During his UN speech, Xi also called for a world without nuclear weapons. “Nuclear weapons should be completely prohibited and destroyed over time to make the world free of nuclear weapons,” he said. China has 260 nuclear weapons, the fifth most in the world, and has been a nuclear power since 1964.
You can watch the full speech below:
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