President Xi Jinping wants to parlay China’s success in brokering a diplomatic deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia into a more active role in global affairs.
China should “actively participate in the reform and construction of the global governance system” and promote “global security initiatives,” Xi said on Monday in a speech to the legislature.
That will add “positive energy to world peace and development,” he claimed.
And in a blend of statecraft and blunt force, Xi spoke of turning the People’s Liberation Army into a “great wall of steel.”
“We should comprehensively promote the modernization of national defense and military construction, and build the People’s Army into a great wall of steel that effectively safeguards national sovereignty, security and development interests,” the Chinese leader said.
Xi’s emphasis on expansion comes as the Wall Street Journal reported Monday that he plans to visit Russia as soon as next week to meet with his counterpart, Vladimir Putin, as Russia continues its more than yearlong war in neighboring Ukraine.
His trip to Moscow follows US intelligence concerns that Beijing is considering providing lethal arms to Russia.
The report said Xi also intends to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, possibly after his visit to Moscow, and reflects China’s objective to play a peacemaking role between the two countries.
Iran and Saudi Arabia announced last Friday that they had reached an agreement, negotiated during four days of secret talks in Beijing, to re-establish diplomatic relations and reopen embassies.
Xi, 69, who has sidelined potential rivals to cement his dominance in the Communist Party, was named to a third five-year term as China’s president last week, which puts him on track to remain in power for the rest of his life.
In the US, there’s growing anxiety over China’s global ambition — and criticism of the Biden administration that it’s taking a too lenient position with Beijing.
Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, on Sunday accused President Biden of being afraid to “provoke” Beijing.
“I think what we heard clearly from the intelligence community is the emergence of China as a threat, both militarily and through espionage, and as the senator was just saying, through technology, quantum technology computing, also certainly the ability for them to insert themselves through TikTok into our data systems,” Turner said during an interview Sunday on ABC News’ “This Week.”
Turner was referring to Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who appeared earlier on the news show and agreed that China poses a threat to the US because of its aim to extend influence globally.
John Bolton, the former national security adviser in the Trump administration, warned that the US is “sitting still” while China makes gains, referring to the diplomatic breakthrough Beijing negotiated between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
“It’s an indication that the Saudis and others are trying to hedge their bets with China and Russia, because they don’t think the United States has the resolve and the fortitude necessary to do what they need to do to protect the world against Iran and its intentions,” Bolton told John Catsimatidis on his WABC 770 AM radio show on Sunday.
With Post wires