Xi Jinping, China’s President speaks during an event. (Photographer: Paul Yeung/Bloomberg)

Xi Hits Back at Critics Who Call China’s Opening Up `a Joke’

(Bloomberg) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping hit back at critics, saying in a speech on Thursday that those who think the nation’s opening up is "a joke" haven’t seen the confidence that Chinese people have in reform efforts.

Xi’s comments follow U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s remark earlier this week that “Chinese leaders over these past few weeks have been claiming openness and globalization, but it’s a joke.” Pompeo also called Xi’s government, the "most predatory economic government that operates against the rest of the world today."

"In the time when economic growth is weak, trade protectionism, isolationism, and populism arise and world peace and development face increasing challenges. There is a saying, ‘we must not forget pain when the wound has healed.’" Xi said in the speech in Beijing to foreign business leaders, according to an Associated Press report.

"The international financial crisis had happened just a few years ago. Lessons have yet to be learnt. We have not fully recovered. We believe that at this moment in time we should not start fighting each other. We should work together to bake a bigger cake."

Relations between the U.S. and China have continued to deteriorate - there are currently no publicly announced negotiations to try to avert a conflict, and both sides are threatening to impose tariffs and other restrictions. Earlier on Thursday, China’s commerce ministry accused the U.S. of abusing tariffs to trigger a trade war, and earlier this week the White House said China’s trade and intellectual property practices are threatening U.S. economic interests.

Xi’s remarks ended on a conciliatory note, calling on nations to "abandon those Cold War mentalities and zero sum games. We need to focus on win-win cooperation to build a new type of international relations."

In the audience was Hyatt Hotels Corp. Chairman Thomas Pritzker, Volkswagen AG Chief Executive Office Herbert Diess, and Royal Philips Electronics CEO Frans van Houten, among others, according to AP.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Xiaoqing Pi in Beijing at xpi1@bloomberg.net;Miao Han in Beijing at mhan22@bloomberg.net;Dandan Li in Beijing at dli395@bloomberg.net;Peter Martin in Beijing at pmartin138@bloomberg.net

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With assistance from Editorial Board