China will ‘never seek hegemony,’ Xi says in reform speech

Chinese President Xi Jinping applauds during a conference to commemorate the 40th anniversary of China's Reform and Opening Up policy at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018. (AP)
Updated 19 December 2018
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China will ‘never seek hegemony,’ Xi says in reform speech

  • Xi’s speech espoused “above all else,” said Julian Gewirtz, an international affairs scholar at Harvard, “the distinctiveness and absolute correctness of China’s path under the party’s leadership”

BEIJING: China will never pursue hegemony, President Xi Jinping said Tuesday as global concerns persist over the country’s growing economic influence.
During a speech to mark 40 years of market reforms, Xi repeated China’s commitment to a multilateral trading system and further opening of its economy. However, he did not announce any new initiatives to counter a slowing economy and trade frictions with the United States.
The Chinese leader said China would not develop “at the expense of other countries’ interests.”
China’s expanding footprint worldwide — from Asia-Pacific to Africa and beyond through a broad network of infrastructure projects called the Belt and Road Initiative — has led some nations to raise the alarm over what they call China’s long arm of influence, which has been criticized for being political as well as economic.
While Xi said China is “increasingly approaching the center of the world stage,” he also noted that the country pursues a defensive national defense policy.
“China’s development does not pose a threat to any country,” Xi said. “No matter how far China develops, it will never seek hegemony.”
Xi chronicled at length the country’s recent achievements, giving special credit to former leader Deng Xiaoping, whose reforms Xi said saved China from the brink of economic collapse following the tumultuous Cultural Revolution.
Other celebrations of reform and opening up have been criticized by scholars for downplaying the role of Deng, widely considered the architect of the changes, in order to elevate Xi.
This time around, Xi spared no praise for Deng, as he began by remarking on the significance of 1978 — the year Deng implemented his first reforms.
During the ceremony, 100 individuals were recognized as pioneers of reform. The eclectic slate included NBA player Yao Ming, Alibaba founder Jack Ma and Nobel prizewinning scientist Tu Youyou. They received their medals to the tune of “Story of Spring,” a patriotic ballad paying tribute to Deng.
Throughout, Xi emphasized the absolute rule of the Communist Party and its upholding of Chinese sovereignty.
“No one is in a position to dictate to the Chinese people what should or should not be done,” he said. “We will resolutely reform what can and needs to be reformed, and we will resolutely uphold what cannot and does not need to be changed.”
Xi’s speech espoused “above all else,” said Julian Gewirtz, an international affairs scholar at Harvard, “the distinctiveness and absolute correctness of China’s path under the party’s leadership.”
“This was a broad attempt to provide a really positive, confidence-building story of China’s past 40 years and its future,” said Gewirtz, who has written a book about China’s economic reforms.
The address won’t assuage concerned private entrepreneurs and foreign businesses, who had hoped Xi would use the occasion to announce concrete industry-opening measures to shift dominance away from state corporations.
China’s push to dominate the high-tech industry by 2025 is a sore point with Washington and a contributing factor in trade tensions that have seen the world’s two largest economies slap billions of dollars in punitive tariffs on each other’s products this year.
In a move welcomed by global stock markets, President Donald Trump agreed Dec. 1 to postpone more US tariff hikes on Chinese imports for 90 days while the two sides negotiate over American complaints about Beijing’s technology policy.


Possible far-right link to German politician murder: reports

A portrait of Walter Luebcke, the administrative chief of the western city of Kassel, is on display next to his coffin during a memorial service in Kassel, western Germany on June 13, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 2 min 1 sec ago
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Possible far-right link to German politician murder: reports

  • Since his death, hundreds of posts from social media accounts tied to right-wing extremists hailed his murder

BERLIN: German authorities said on Sunday they had arrested a man in connection with the murder of a local politician who was vocally pro-migrant, as media reported the suspect could have far-right links.
Police and prosecutors issued a joint statement that they had taken a 45-year-old man into custody Saturday over the shooting death in early June of prominent local politician Walter Luebcke, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU party.
“The arrest came on the basis of DNA evidence and the suspect appeared this afternoon before an investigating judge in Kassel,” the western city where Luebcke was killed, the authorities said.
They declined to comment on a possible motive, saying they would offer further information to the media about the arrest and the investigation’s progress in the coming days.
However the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily reported that the suspect “comes from the far-right scene,” without providing further details.
The Bild newspaper, citing unnamed investigators, said the suspect “could belong to the right-wing extremist scene.”
Luebcke was shot in the head at close range on the terrace of his home in Kassel, around 160 kilometers (100 miles) northeast of Frankfurt.
Investigators say it is unclear why the 65-year-old was killed, but a possible political motive has not been ruled out, given he had previously received numerous death threats.
Luebcke, the head of the city administration in Kassel, had spoken out in defense of migrants at the height of Europe’s refugee crisis in 2015, drawing the fury of the far right.
Since his death, hundreds of posts from social media accounts tied to right-wing extremists hailed his murder.