President Xi Jinping has condemned what he branded an American-led “suppression of China”, as he urged the country’s private sector to boost innovation and become more self-reliant.
China’s technology ambitions have been hit with a raft of restrictions by the United States and its Western allies, and Beijing has doubled down on the need to shift away from imports for sectors perceived as vital to national security, such as semiconductors and artificial intelligence.
Washington has in recent months tightened sanctions on Chinese chipmakers, citing national security concerns and the risk of the technology being used by China’s military.
In a rare direct criticism of the US, Xi told industry leaders that “Western countries led by the United States have implemented all-round containment, encirclement and suppression of China, which has brought unprecedented severe challenges to our country’s development”.
Xi, who will be granted a third consecutive presidential term in the coming days at the highly choreographed National Party Congress (NPC), said the past five years have been riddled with a new set of hurdles that threaten to weigh down China’s economic rise.
According to state-run Xinhua news agency, Xi said China must “have the courage to fight as the country faces profound and complex changes in both the domestic and international landscape”, in the address to delegates at the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), which runs alongside the NPC.
The 69-year-old said private firms “should take the initiative to pursue high-quality development”, Xinhua reported late Monday.
Earlier this week Xi vowed to bolster China’s manufacturing capacity and said the country should be able to fend for itself.
“I’ve always said there are two critical areas for China: one is to safeguard our rice bowl, and the other is to build up a strong manufacturing sector,” he said.
“As a great nation of 1.4 billion people, we must rely on ourselves… We can’t depend on international markets to save us.”
‘Not a threat’
China’s foreign minister Qin Gang later said the relationship between China and the US needed to be based on mutual interests and friendship, rather than “US domestic politics and hysterical neo-McCarthyism”.
In a wide-ranging press conference, former US ambassador Qin dismissed warnings from Western countries that China may supply arms to Russia for its war in Ukraine, saying it would not accept “blame-shifting, sanctions, suppression and threats” targeting Beijing.
China last month released a position paper outlining its stance on the Ukraine conflict, portraying itself as a neutral party and urging the two sides to enter peace negotiations.
Beijing’s claim to neutrality has been questioned by the US and other Ukrainian allies, with Russia and China describing their bilateral relationship as having “no limits”.
Qin said China was “neither a creator of the crisis nor a party to it, and it has not provided weapons to any party”, adding peace talks should start “as soon as possible”.
Beijing’s relationship with Moscow is “not a threat to any country in the world”, he said.
He warned against “underestimating the strong determination, firm will and powerful ability of the Chinese government and Chinese people to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
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