MANILA, Philippines – Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday sought to reassure regional economic and political leaders that his government will keep the world’s No. 2 economy growing.
In a speech to a business conference on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, Xi said China is committed to overhauling its economy and raising the living standards of its people.
China’s growth fell to a six-year low of 6.8 per cent in the latest quarter as Beijing tries to shift the economy away from reliance on trade and investment. The slowdown, which has been unfolding for several years, has rippled around the world, crimping growth in countries such as South Korea and Australia that were big exporters to China.
“The Chinese economy is a concern for everyone, and against the background of a changing world must cope with all sorts of difficulties and challenges,” Xi said. But China would “preserve stability and accelerate its development,” he said.
“We will work hard to shift our growth model from just expanding scale to improving its structure.”
He also said Beijing is stepping up efforts to counter climate change and clean up its environment.
Weeks away from a deadline for an agreement to limit global warming, President Barack Obama sought to build momentum for the pact on Wednesday, reasoning that bold climate action will be a boon for businesses in Asia and around the world.
At the APEC business conference, Obama urged business leaders to reduce their own emissions and pressure governments to sign on to an international carbon-cutting pact to be discussed beginning Nov. 30 in Paris.
“Your businesses can do right by your bottom lines and by our planet and future generations,” Obama said. “The old rules that said we can’t grow our economy and protect our economy the same time — those are outdated.”
Xi did not comment on territorial disputes in the South China Sea, which are not part of the official agenda of the regional summit taking place under extremely tight security in the Philippine capital, Manila.
But on Wednesday, Obama called on China to halt further land reclamation and new construction in the disputed waters.
At a meeting with Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, Obama called for “bold steps” to lower tensions over China’s territorial ambitions in the region, which have recently centred on construction of artificial islands in areas claimed by the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries.
Such rifts often have tended to strain APEC’s facade of handshakes and unity, overshadowing talks on trade and development at the annual summit of the 21-member APEC.
The U.S. has showed solidarity with the Philippines by conducting military manoeuvrs recently near islands where China has reclaimed land and built settlements to shore up its claims.
Associated Press writers Jim Gomez, Teresa Cerojano and Stephen Wright contributed to this report.