"We need to seek peaceful coexistence and win-win outcomes," Chinese President Xi Jinping tells Davos meeting, warning confrontation between major global powers could have "catastrophic consequences."

Chinese President Xi Jinping presents himself as the defender of multilateralism in the all-virtual Davos forum.
Chinese President Xi Jinping presents himself as the defender of multilateralism in the all-virtual Davos forum. (AFP)

Chinese President Xi Jinping has warned that confrontation between major powers could have "catastrophic consequences" in a speech to world leaders at an all-virtual Davos forum.

For the second year in a row the face-to-face gathering of political and corporate power players in the Swiss Alps has had to go online on Monday thanks to a coronavirus pandemic that shows no sign of abating.

Xi opened proceedings with a speech much like the one he delivered virtually last year.

He touted China –– where the coronavirus was first detected in late 2019 –– as a rare pandemic success story and the only major economy to continue posting strong growth.

He presented himself as the defender of multilateralism and also gave sober warnings for the future as relations between major powers plunge.

READ MORE: Biden, Xi agree to focus on cooling tensions in long virtual meeting

Calling out US

"Our world today is far from the tranquil, rhetoric that stokes hatred and prejudice abound," he said, according to an official translation of the speech which was streamed online.

"History has proved time and again that confrontation does not solve problems, it only invites catastrophic consequences," he added.

His comments come as tensions between the United States and China have simmered on topics like Taiwan, intellectual property, trade, human rights and the South China Sea.

"We need to discard Cold War mentality and seek peaceful coexistence and win-win outcomes," Xi said through a translator. 

"Protectionism and unilateralism can protect no one. ... Even worse are the practices of hegemony and bullying, which run counter to the tide of history" — terms Beijing has used to describe US policy and actions.

China stuck to a strict policy of targeting zero Covid cases once it stamped out its initial outbreak.

Its borders remain largely closed to outsiders but it has remained the world's vital manufacturing base throughout the pandemic.

READ MORE: Top US, China diplomats lock horns over Taiwan ahead of Biden-Xi summit

Addressing Covid-19 and global economy

Xi, who hasn't left China since the coronavirus emerged in early 2020, said his country has exported more than 2 billion doses of its Covid-19 vaccines to over 120 countries and international institutions. 

He announced plans to provide an additional 1 billion, including a donation of 600 million doses to Africa and an extra 150 million to Southeast Asia.

In his speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Xi said the world had fought a "tenacious battle" against the "once in a century pandemic".

But he said the pandemic was "proving a protracted one" with new variants spreading faster than before, deepening challenges for the global economy.

"The global industrial supply chains have been disrupted," Xi warned. "Commodity prices continue to rise, energy supply remains tight."

He added that China was keen "for people-to-people exchange in a bid to facilitate cross border trade, keep the industrial supply chain secure and smooth, and promote steady and solid progress in global economic recovery".

But there were no announcements in the speech on when or whether Beijing might relax its tight border controls.

China has remained comparatively free of the coronavirus but is currently battling a spate of local outbreaks in multiple provinces and key cities just weeks before it hosts the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Xi is also moving to secure a third term at a major gathering of the Communist Party this autumn and has made clear stability must remain a priority.

READ MORE: WHO says West should recognise authorised Chinese vaccines

Source: TRTWorld and agencies