Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday called for more equitable management of global affairs and, in an implicit rejection of U.S. dominance, said governments shouldn’t impose rules on others.
Speaking at the annual Boao Forum for Asia, Xi criticized efforts by some countries to "build barriers" and "decouple," which he said would harm others and benefit no one.
"The world wants justice, not hegemony," Xi said in remarks broadcast to the forum.
While Xi did not name any specific country, Chinese officials have referred to U.S. "hegemony" in recent public criticisms of Washington's global projection of power in trade and geopolitics.
China has repeatedly clashed with the biggest stakeholders in world governance, particularly the United States, over a range of issues from human rights to China's economic influence over other countries.
“Rules made by one or more countries should not be forced upon others,” he said.
Xi’s comments reflected Beijing’s desire for global influence to match China’s status as the second-largest economy and frustration at what party leaders see as U.S. efforts to block its ambitions.
On Friday, President Joe Biden held his first face-to-face White House summit since taking office, in a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in which China topped the agenda.
Both Biden and Suga said they "share serious concerns" about the human rights situation in Hong Kong and China's Xinjiang region, where Washington has said Beijing is perpetrating a genocide against Muslim Uighurs. China has denied abuses.
Some of Xi’s comments clashed with Beijing's increased military activity in the South China Sea and in areas it disputes with Japan, the Philippines, India and other countries.
“No matter how far it develops, China will never seek hegemony, expand, seek spheres of influence or engage in an arms race,” Xi said.
China’s military spending is the second-highest in the world after the U.S. Beijing is also developing nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, submarines, stealth fighters and other weapons to extend its military reach.
Chinese speakers at the Boao forum, Asia's answer to Davos, also affirmed Beijing's commitment to global free trade.
China's trade practices were a focus of an intense tariff war between Beijing and Washington under the Trump administration, with the United States accusing Beijing of unfair subsidies that give Chinese companies an unfair advantage abroad, as well as forced transfers of technology and intellectual property.
"We Chinese are not afraid of competition," Long Yongtu, China's former chief negotiator for the China's WTO entry in 2001, told the forum on Monday.
Despite the persistent confrontation between the U.S. administration and China, both sides have rediscovered a common interest in battling climate change, after bilateral talks on fighting greenhouse emissions fizzled out during the Trump era.
Last week, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry flew to Shanghai to meet with his Chinese counterpart in the first high-level visit to China by a Biden administration official.
Both agreed on concrete actions "in the 2020s" to reduce emissions.
On Tuesday, Xi also called on stronger global cooperation on coronavirus vaccines.