Former US president Bill Clinton said Xi Jinping’s long-term reign had upended US-China relations, and that a more coordinated approach between the incoming Joe Biden administration and American allies was required when dealing with Beijing.
Clinton, who was in conversation with former British prime minister Tony Blair at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum, said the US could strengthen its negotiating position with China by enlisting partners, from Europe to Asian nations that were part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact abandoned by President Donald Trump.
Xi has abolished term limits and could rule for years to come. Last month, he laid out an ambition to double the size of China’s economy by 2035 – suggesting he planned to remain in power for the foreseeable future.
“The old Chinese system, which was by no means a democracy, still guaranteed enough debate, and play, and openness because there was a regular rotation of leadership,” Clinton said.
“Now that it appears that a person is in charge of China who intends to stay there for life, in essence, that changes things. But we shouldn’t accept or assume that it’s all going to be bad without working to make it better.”