As trade war bites, Xi Jinping preaches openness

Remigio Civitarese
Mag 15, 2019

In a veiled attack on his USA counterpart Donald Trump after he raised tariffs on Chinese products, Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday said that it is "foolish" to believe in "superiority of civilisations" as countries can not go into isolation and close their doors from the rest of the world.

Chinese President Xi Jinping attends the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations in Beijing, China May 15, 2019.

More than a year into the trade war between the US and China, signs point to a deepening in their economic rift as both sides signal an unwillingness to compromise. Just before Xi spoke the government reported surprisingly weaker growth in retail sales and industrial output for April.

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilization, which opened today at the China National Convention Center in Beijing.

On Monday, China retaliated with an announcement that it would raise tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. goods from June 1.

Xi made no direct reference to trade tensions with the United States in his speech at the forum in Beijing, which was organized by China's Publicity Department.

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

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.

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

No country could stand alone, Mr Xi said, perhaps taking an indirect swipe at US President Donald Trump's "America First" policy.

"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", he added.

His remarks came after a top-level U.S. official last month described the rivalry between China and the United States as "a fight with a really different civilisation and a different ideology".

Xi said to respect the beauty of other civilizations and build a more wonderful future together.

"It is stupid to believe that one's race and civilization are superior to others, and it is disastrous to wilfully reshape or even replace other civilizations".

Xi offered no new concrete measures to further open China up, aside from proposing an Asia tourism promotion plan, and even on that he gave no details.

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