China’s Xi, no civilization superior

China will only be more open to the world, President Xi Jinping said on Wednesday, as he denounced as “stupid” those who believe in cultural superiority, in his first public address since trade tension with the United States spiked last week.

China and the United States are locked in an escalating trade war, with both levying tariffs on each other’s imports. Just before Xi spoke, the government reported surprisingly weaker growth in retail sales and industrial output for April.

China on Monday announced higher tariffs on $60 billion worth of US goods, effective on June 1, in retaliation for a US decision on Friday to raise levies on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports.

Xi was addressing a forum in Beijing organised by the propaganda ministry, called the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations. He made no direct reference to the trade tension nor to the United States, focusing instead on presenting China as a non-threatening country open to all.

Chinese civilisation was an “open system” that had continuously had exchanges and learned from other cultures, including Buddhism, Marxism and Islam, Xi told the forum.

“Today’s China is not only China’s China. It is Asia’s China and the world’s China. China in the future will take on an even more open stance to embrace the world,” he added.

No country could stand alone, Xi said, perhaps taking an indirect swipe at US President Donald Trump’s “America First” policy.

“Civilisations will lose vitality if countries go back to isolation and cut themselves off from the rest of the world,” Xi said.

“The people of Asian countries hope to distance themselves from being closed, and hope that all countries will adhere to the spirit of openness and promote policy communication, connectivity and smooth trade.”

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