Xi Jinping warns about 'new cold war' as White House dithers about China policy, fate of TikTok and Huawei 5G

The Biden administration has spoken out about human rights violations by China like the Uyghur Muslims 'genocide', and China's aggression toward Taiwan, concurring with Donald Trump on these issues


                            Xi Jinping warns about 'new cold war' as White House dithers about China policy, fate of TikTok and Huawei 5G
Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, with President Joe Biden, who was the US Vice President at the time, on December 4, 2013, in Beijing, China. (Getty Images)
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Chinese President Xi Jinping warned global leaders at an all-virtual Davos forum Monday against starting a "new Cold War", and urged global unity in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. His speech revealed China's ambitions to become a key player in the post-pandemic world with the US still fighting to control the spread and transmission of the virus and allay the toll on the economy and livelihoods. China in comparison has largely curbed the spread of COVID-19 within its borders, and the only major economy to have expanded in the pandemic-ravaged year with an increased GDP of 2.3 percent in 2020, according to official data. 

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Xi Jinping in his speech said: "To build small cliques or start a new Cold War, to reject, threaten or intimidate others... will only push the world into division", both referencing the Trump administration's confrontational measures and as a warning to the yet-untested Biden administration's stance.

Chinese President Xi Jinping listens during the closing session of the National People's Congress, which included a vote on a new draft security bill for Hong Kong, at the Great Hall of the People on May 28, 2020 in Beijing, China. (Getty Images)

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White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki spoke about China-related technology and national security concerns soon after Xi's speech. She said: “We need a comprehensive strategy … and a more systematic approach that actually addresses the full range of these issues”. Psaki clarified that this meant “play[ing] a better defense” when it came to preventing alleged Chinese theft of US intellectual property, adding that Biden was committed to making sure that Chinese companies cannot misappropriate and misuse American data. 

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However, nothing concrete was revealed about whether the Biden administration will double down on the executive order issued by President Donald Trump banning US companies from providing internet and content delivery services to TikTok, owned by Beijing-based ByteDance. The executive order is currently under review in federal court.

Similarly, there is no clarity on the White House's stand about Huawei’s hardware and software — especially its globally popular 5G wireless technology. The Trump administration wanted US companies to stop relying on Huawei because their services could be compromised by Chinese government agencies.

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A mobile phone featuring the TikTok app. Ex-President Donald Trump tried his best to ban the popular social media app in the US  over Chinese security threat concerns because it was owned by China-based ByteDance. (Getty Images)

However, the Biden administration has spoken out about human rights violations by China like the "genocide" of Uyghur Muslims, and China's aggression toward Taiwan, concurring with Donald Trump on these issues. This form of 'shaming' about human rights violations is usually seen as a prelude to some forms of economic or trade sanctions. Such sanctions or trade bans then have less chances of being overturned in subsequent World Trade Organization trade dispute settlements between countries.

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Tanvi Madan, an expert on US, China and India relations, tweeted about Psaki's comments, saying: "Press Sec. also noted that Xi Jinping's comments today don't change anything. US still in strategic competition w/ China, which has been acting vs US interests, & admin will go through this process (interagency review, consultation w. Democrats & Republics, allies & partners)" and also posted a detailed transcript of her responses about the China-related policies of the current government. 

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Xi's speech seemed to be aimed at warning the Biden administration to refrain from any harsh measures against China. "We should respect and accommodate differences, avoid meddling in other countries’ internal affairs and resolve disagreements through consultation and dialogue. History and reality have made it clear time and again that the misguided approach of antagonism and confrontation — be it in the form of a cold war, hot war, trade war or tech war — will eventually hurt all countries’ interest and undermine everyone’s well-being," he said in his speech.

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However, Twitter was having none of it, calling out Xi's hypocrisy, while recalling the meme which compared the Chinese President to Winnie the Pooh. "Chinese President Xi Jinping says he wants "the torch of multilateralism to light humanity's way forward" ... while ethnic cleansing Tibet and imprisoning more than a millilon Uyghurs in his own nation in favor of Han hegemony. Oh, and he hates being compared to WInnie the Pooh," said one tweet, while another said: "That’s rich.... Coming from Xi Jinping, the guy who completely banned Winnie the Pooh from the entire country just because people said he looks like him." 

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