Chinese President Xi Jinping said international rules and order should not be dictated by a single power or one bloc in a speech on Monday to mark five decades since China’s seat at the United Nations was transferred from Taipei to Beijing. Xi took a veiled swipe at American predominance over world order while also calling for peaceful coexistence in his speech at a conference in Beijing to mark the 50th anniversary of the “restoration of the lawful seat of the People’s Republic of China in the United Nations”. The conference was attended by diplomats and representatives of international organisations in China, as well as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres who attended virtually. “International rules should be drawn up jointly by all 193 UN members instead of being decided by certain countries or blocs. International rules should also be followed by all 193 UN members, with no exception,” Xi was quoted as saying by official news agency Xinhua. The Chinese leader said Beijing opposed “zero-sum confrontation” and “all forms of hegemony and power politics”, and called for different civilisations and political systems to coexist peacefully. “No one civilisation is superior or better than the other,” said Xi, adding that a country’s path should be judged by whether it could bring prosperity and improve people’s livelihoods, citing China’s poverty alleviation efforts and its contribution to the UN budget and peacekeeping as among Beijing’s key contributions to the world. Xi also said his concept of a “community of common destiny” was “not about replacing one system with another, or replacing one civilisation with another”, but advocating coexistence as well as the sharing of responsibility and rights among countries. Guterres offered his congratulations on the anniversary to Xi via video link, according to the state-controlled Global Times. They also discussed expanding cooperation on issues from climate change and vaccine distribution to poverty reduction, the newspaper reported. Xi’s speech comes as the UN has become increasingly fragmented over the wrangling between China and the United States. With a deepening ideological and geopolitical divide between China and the West, the global institution has emerged as a battleground for rivalry over Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and the South China Sea. China urges rich nations to give more to UN, with apparent dig at US It also came just hours after Washington’s latest attempt to upgrade Taiwan’s international standing through the UN. The US State Department said in a statement on Sunday that its “high-level representatives” and Taiwan’s foreign ministry had discussed “expanding Taiwan’s participation at the United Nations and in other international forums”. “The discussion focused on supporting Taiwan’s ability to participate meaningfully at the UN and contribute its valuable expertise to address global challenges, including global public health, the environment and climate change , development assistance, technical standards and economic cooperation,” the US statement said. The communist government took over the seat at the United Nations in 1971 when the Republic of China, the official name for Taiwan, was formally expelled from the body after the UN switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing. Beijing – which sees Taiwan as a renegade province to be taken by force if necessary – has intensified its efforts to isolate the self-ruling island diplomatically since independence-leaning President Tsai Ing-wen was elected in 2016. The island has lost observer status at UN-affiliated bodies such as the World Health Assembly, the governing body of the World Health Organization. Observers noted that contrary to expectations, Xi’s speech did not focus on heightened tensions over Taiwan, following US President Joe Biden ’s off-the-cuff comments last week pledging to defend the island from a Chinese attack. “It’s not about Taiwan at all. It is more of a summary of China’s vision for the future order of the world,” said Yun Sun, a senior fellow at the Stimson Centre in Washington. But she noted that Xi did not spell out a specific role for China to play in such a new order, despite growing concerns in the US that Beijing intended to displace Washington in Asia and beyond. Beijing will never let Taipei participate in UN, former envoy to US says Sun said Xi’s speech was largely aimed at Washington and its allies. “If China cannot compete with the US alone, using the UN as a multilateral forum to counter and offset the US and its coalition is a good way to borrow the UN’s collective strength and authority,” she said. Huang Jing, dean of the Institute of International and Regional Studies at Beijing Language and Culture University, said that without naming the US, Xi struck a softer, more conciliatory tone towards Washington in Monday’s speech. “It is markedly different from his previous ones. Instead of elaborating on China’s own success, its global ambitions and fighting spirit to counter the US, he tried hard to establish China as a country that shares common values and interests with the world and poses no threats to others,” he said. According to Huang, Xi’s speech did not touch on the delicate Taiwan question because Beijing saw Taiwan as part of its internal affairs and wanted to tone down its confrontational rhetoric. Pang Zhongying, an international affairs expert at the Ocean University of China, warned that the growing antagonism and mistrust between China and the US risked not only paralysing the UN and other multilateral bodies, but also hampering Beijing’s efforts to promote the UN-based future order. Biden to stress US refocus on ‘rules-based’ global issues in speech to UN He said it was “understandable” for Xi and Chinese officials to repeatedly emphasise the need to uphold the world order based on international law, “with the UN at its core”. “But it could be a double-edged sword, because it will raise expectations on China for solving the climate crisis and maritime disputes in the South China Sea. Besides, the UN may only have limited roles to play in the future world, with the US and its allies questioning its relevance,” Pang said. According to Pang, Beijing failed to mention the backdrop of the 1971 UN resolution which saw the communist government take over the seat at the UN previously occupied by Taiwan. “It’d be impossible for China to return to the UN without [former US secretary of state Henry] Kissinger’s secret trip to Beijing earlier in the same year, which marked the beginning of the rapprochement between China and the US. If Beijing is serious about mending ties with Washington, Xi could have given credit to Kissinger and the US side for helping China return to the world stage,” he said.