CHINESE President Xi Jinping today declared there is “no clash” of civilisations and denounced racial supremacy as “stupid” amid tensions with the US and concerns over Beijing’s rising global power.
His remarks come after a top-level US official last month described the rivalry between the countries as “a fight with a really different civilisation and a different ideology”.
Kiron Skinner, director of policy planning at the US State Department, put it in racial terms, telling a security forum that China is the first US “great power competitor that is not Caucasian”.
“Thinking that one’s own race and culture are superior, and insisting on transforming or even replacing other civilisations, is stupid in its understanding and disastrous in practice,” Xi said at the opening ceremony of the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilisations in Beijing.
Xi’s speech comes less than a week after trade negotiations between Washington and Beijing took a turn for the worse, with the US hiking tariffs on US$200 billion (RM835 billion) in Chinese merchandise and targeting duties on US$300 billion more.
On Monday, China retaliated with an announcement that it will raise tariffs on US$60 billion worth of US goods starting June 1.
The nations are locked in a battle for global influence, with diplomatic and economic tensions ranging from US military aid to self-ruled Taiwan and criticism of Beijing’s Belt and Road global infrastructure programme.
China’s rising influence has also raised alarm bells in Asia, especially as it continues to assert its vast territorial claims in the disputed South China Sea and East China Sea.
Last month, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte warned Beijing to back off from a Manila-held island in the South China Sea, threatening possible military action if Beijing “touched” the island.
Xi’s speech today also focused on promoting cross-cultural collaboration across the region, and urged other Asian nations to “strengthen cultural confidence”.
“On the foundation of the brilliant achievements obtained by our ancestors, we will… strive to continue writing the new glory of Asian civilisations.” – AFP