Chinese President Xi Jinping warned that one civilisation forcing itself on another would be “stupid” and “disastrous” as he called on nations to respect each other on Wednesday, with Beijing embroiled in rising confrontation with the United States on trade as well as military and cultural matters.
In a speech at the start of the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilisations – designed for Beijing to show its soft power – Xi did not mention any nation by name, but said nobody should regard their race as superior.
The speech came two weeks after US State Department director of policy planning Kiron Skinner described strategic competition with China as “a fight with a really different civilisation and a different ideology”. Skinner said it was the first time the US had faced a “great power competitor that is not Caucasian”.
Chinese officials have rejected Skinner’s remarks, and in his speech Xi appeared to expand on the theme, saying cultures were distinctive but no better or worse than each other.
“We should hold up equality and respect, abandon pride and prejudice, deepen our knowledge about the differences between our own and other civilisations, and promote harmonious dialogue and coexistence between civilisations.”
Xi stressed that people should step beyond the limits of their own culture to discover the advantages of others, and argued it was the best way to inspire innovation.
The speech reiterated the idea, which Xi has aired previously, of a community of d destiny, arguing that Asian countries should open and connect their polices, infrastructures, trade, investment and people.
“Children and women are suffering from poverty, hunger and diseases in Asia. This has to be changed,” he said, calling on Asian nations to “work together to promote an open, inclusive, balanced and mutually beneficial globalised economy, eradicating poverty”.
“This can facilitate the appreciation and understanding of different cultures,” he said.
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