Upbeat Xi Says Time on China’s Side as Turmoil Grips U.S.

(Bloomberg) -- President Xi Jinping issued an unusually upbeat assessment about China’s future, noting that “time and the situation” were on the country’s side in a new year marked by domestic turmoil in the U.S.

The Chinese leader told a gathering of provincial and ministerial-level officials Monday that he saw “opportunities in general outweighing challenges,” a marked shift from his sometimes dire-sounding warnings of recent months. While he repeated an oft-used allusion to the challenges posed by President Donald Trump’s “America First” policies, he expressed new confidence that China would gain in the long run.

“The world is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century, but time and the situation are in our favor,” Xi told the study session at Communist Party School, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. “This is where our determination and confidence are coming from.”

Xi’s optimistic remarks come amid an economic rebound at home and historic upheaval in Washington. Besides the Capitol Hill chaos last week and the worsening coronavirus outbreak in America, a forecast released by the Centre for Economics and Business Research last month projected that China would overtake the U.S. as the world’s largest economy in dollar terms in 2028, five years earlier than a year ago.

In similar remarks in 2020, Xi emphasized “unprecedented risks and challenges” as the coronavirus hit China and bilateral ties with the U.S. dipped to historical lows, with disputes on everything from the pandemic and trade to Taiwan and Hong Kong.

On Monday, Xi urged provincial officials, who are preparing to approve a new round of five-year plans at their annual legislative sessions, to remain “humble and cautious,” according to Xinhua. He said efforts were needed to improve awareness of potential dangers, consider worst-case scenarios and learn to cope with more complex and difficult situations.

The legislative sessions are part of a long series of events as Xi prepares to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the ruling party’s founding in July. Xi also reiterated his call for the country to be more self-reliant on technological innovation while building a “super-sized domestic market” to boost consumption.