China leader Xi Jinping took a victory lap Thursday at the annual Apec meeting as he attributed China's rapid post-coronavirus economic recovery to strong international trade ties.
In his keynote address, Xi rebuked protectionist policies and called for greater economic unity between the 21 Pacific Rim nations - comprising roughly 60% of the world's GDP - that form the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
"No country can develop itself by keeping its doors closed," Xi told delegates via webcam at the virtual conference. "China is already deeply integrated into the global economy and the international system - we will not reverse course."
Part of this course involves attracting more foreign capital. "China will improve its system for foreign investment management...and the lawful rights and interests of foreign investors will be protected," the China leader said.
But above all, the speech was a moment of triumph for Xi, who cemented China's place in international trade last week with the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership alongside 14 other countries.
The U.S was notably absent from what is now the world's largest free-trade deal and in his speech Xi appeared to take a stab at the Trump administration, noting that "openness enables a country to move forward, while seclusion holds it back."
The sentiment likely came as a surprise to countries blocked from trading by China, Australia chief among them.
Products from Australia, including beef and barley, have been embargoed by China in retaliation for suggesting that China submit to an international coronavirus inquiry as well as a probe into Xinjiang human rights abuses.
"Australia has had a consistent position when it comes to international human rights obligation - that has at times been a point of tension," the country's trade minister Simon Birmingham said earlier this week on the subject.