Xi Jinping lashes out at the US with unusually direct comments

Hong Kong (CNN) — Chinese leader Xi Jinping lashed out at the United States with unusually blunt comments calling on the country’s private companies to “fight” alongside the Communist Party at a time of mounting challenges at home and abroad.

“Over the past five years, Western countries, led by the United States, have restrained and suppressed us in every way, posing unprecedented serious challenges to our development,” Xi told a group of government advisers representing the United States. private companies during an annual legislative meeting held Monday in Beijing.

China’s top leader often avoids directly attacking the United States in public, despite the fact that relations between Beijing and Washington have deteriorated sharply in recent years. Usually, he only refers to “Western countries” or “some developed nations” when he makes critical comments about Washington.

Addressing business delegates at a top political advisory body, Xi expressed concern about the external and economic challenges facing the country, while urging the Chinese people to “unite as one.”

“In the coming period, the risks and challenges we face will only increase and worsen. Only when all the people think in one place, work hard in one place… can we continue to win new battles,” he said , according to a reading published by the state news agency Xinhua. “We are in the same boat.”

Ties between the world’s two largest economies are at their worst in decades. Tensions escalated further in February after a suspected Chinese spy balloon flew over North America and was shot down by US fighters.

Xi was speaking during the annual meetings of China’s parliament and top political advisory body, known together as the “Two Sessions.”

The meetings, attended by more than 5,000 delegates, will confirm Xi’s third term as president and the biggest reshuffle of China’s economic leadership in a decade.

A crucial cabinet revamp, which is expected to further strengthen Xi’s direct control over China’s government and economic system, will also be unveiled during the meetings.

a major force

During his speech on Monday, Xi tried to reassure the private sector, which has been rocked by his statist policies in recent years, by asking it to play a role in boosting growth, jobs and technological innovation.

“The private sector is an important force for our party to rule in the long term,” Xi said. “We always view private companies and private entrepreneurs as people on our own side.”

His exhortation comes after the Chinese economy posted its second worst annual growth rate in nearly half a century.

Business confidence has plummeted following an unprecedented crackdown on the private sector and growing uncertainty about China’s future.

Customs data on Tuesday showed Chinese exports fell nearly 7% in the January-February period, extending the decline of previous months as global demand weakened. Imports fell 10.2%.

Chinese exports to the US fell 15%. But imports increased by 3%. The US remains China’s main trading partner.

Aligning independent-minded Chinese private companies with party priorities could help speed the nation’s fragile recovery, while extending the control of Xi, the most powerful leader the country has seen in decades.

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The private sector, despite being dwarfed in size by the state sector, contributes more than 60% to China’s GDP and more than 80% to employment, according to official statistics.

Xi urged the government to support private companies and remove institutional barriers that prevent them from entering certain industries.

It is also necessary to protect the property rights of private companies and entrepreneurs and treat state-owned and private companies equally, to “boost market expectations and confidence,” he said.

“[Debemos] let private companies play an important role in stabilizing employment and increasing income [públicos]”, he claimed.

In particular, the government should support Internet companies “so that they shine” on the world stage, create jobs and expand consumption, he said.

However, Xi also stressed the need to strengthen the political and ideological control of private industry, saying that businessmen should be guided to “correctly understand” the Communist Party’s principles and policies, including its call for “common prosperity.”

Private businessmen should be “patriotic” and actively participate in social welfare and charity work, he said.

“They must be rich with love,” he added.

On Sunday, outgoing Premier Li Keqiang announced the lowest GDP target seen in decades, indicating that the government is aware of the tough task ahead to achieve economic recovery.

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