Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged countries not to “close their doors and hide behind them” in his first major public speech since US President Donald Trump raised tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods amid an escalating trade war.
Opening the Conference on Asian Civilizations Dialogue in Beijing on Wednesday, Xi said there was no need for “civilizations to clash with each other.”
“No civilization is superior over others. The thought that one’s own race and civilization are superior and the inclination to remold or replace other civilizations are just stupid,” he said, adding to do so would invite “catastrophic consequences.”
China retaliated to Trump’s latest round of increases on Monday, raising tariffs on roughly $60 billion of US exports. One editorial in state media said “for us, this is a real ‘people’s war.'”
Trade is just one of several fronts on which the US and China have clashed in recent months. Xi’s speech touched on a topic thrown into a spotlight by top US State Department official Kiron Skinner in late April, when she controversially said that China was Washington’s first “great power competitor that is not Caucasian.”
“When we think about the Soviet Union and that competition, in a way it was a fight within the western family … That’s not really possible with China. This is a fight with a really different civilization and a different ideology,” Skinner said.
Speaking at Wednesday’s conference, which featured representatives from 47 countries, Xi praised the achievements of China and other Asian nations over the centuries and said all civilizations needed to learn from each other.
It is foolish to believe that one's race and civilization are superior to others, and it is disastrous to willfully reshape or even replace other civilizations: Xi Jinping #CDAC pic.twitter.com/Tp6gTW5xVW
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) May 15, 2019
Trade talks on hold
As recently as late April, the US and China appeared to be close to ending the year-long trade war.
But there has been little progress on trade talks since a Chinese delegation left Washington on Friday, sources close to the situation said.
Both countries have blamed each other for the breakdown in negotiations, with Trump saying on Tuesday that Beijing “broke” the deal.
“We had a deal that was very close and then they broke it. They really did. I mean, more than just, more than renegotiate, they really broke it. So we can’t have that happen,” he said.
Nevertheless, Trump appeared to play down the split between the two countries, describing it as a “little squabble.”
There are still hopes for a deal, with a US trade delegation expected to head to Beijing in the coming weeks.
Xi and Trump are also expected to meet in Japan during the G20 in June.
‘Fight for a new world’
Chinese state media has been on the offensive since the recent breakdown of talks, publishing fiercely nationalistic opinion pieces and articles proclaiming China’s resilience.
A statement read during the Monday 7 p.m. newscast on state broadcaster CCTV said China would “fight for a new world,” adding that in its long history “there’s nothing we haven’t seen before.”
“As President Xi Jinping pointed out, the Chinese economy is a sea, not a small pond. A rainstorm can destroy a small pond, but it cannot harm the sea. After numerous storms, the sea is still there,” anchor Kang Hui said.
The clip went viral on Chinese social media, where it has been viewed millions of times. CCTV’s own post of the clip has has been reposted by most state media accounts.