Xi Jinping Warns of 'Disastrous' Clash of Civilizations

FILE Chinese President Xi Jinping

FILE Chinese President Xi Jinping

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.

China is running out of options to hit back at the United States without hurting its own interests, as Washington intensifies pressure on Beijing to correct trade imbalances in a challenge to China's state-led economic model.

"Exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations should be reciprocal and equal", Xi said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is preaching "openness" in an effort to make China look like a friendlier trade partner, as tensions over new tariffs with the USA escalate.

"There is no clash between different civilisations, [we] just need to have the eye to appreciate the beauty in all civilisations", he said.

In his address, Xi also mooted a tourism promotion plan with other countries to promote Asian cultures.

Today's China is not only China's China.

He called for efforts to jointly create a brighter future for civilizations of Asia and the world. "China in the future will take on an even more open stance to embrace the world", he added.

Officials have billed the forum as part of a soft power push to put a gentler face on China's growing might, though it attracted only a handful of foreign leaders to the opening session, at which Mr Xi spoke, including the presidents of Greece, Sri Lanka and Singapore.

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The communist country has faced criticism overseas for its tight cyber controls, the controversial Belt and Road infrastructure project that aims to expand global trade links, and its treatment of Muslims in the Xinjiang region, among other issues.

The two countries are locked in a battle for global influence, with diplomatic and economic tensions ranging from U.S. military aid to self-ruled Taiwan to criticism of Beijing's Belt and Road global infrastructure programme.

China retaliated by slapping tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. imports.

But while optimism had grown recently over the prospect of a deal, tensions have again heightened in recent weeks. Skinner said it was the first time the USA had faced a "great power competitor that is not Caucasian", according to the newspaper.

Xi's decision on Monday to raise tariffs on U.S. imports came after President Donald Trump announced on Friday that he would impose increased levies on Chinese imports to encourage USA businesses to invest in American production.

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

Xi's speech comes less than a week after trade negotiations between Washington and Beijing took a turn for the worse, with the USA hiking tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese merchandise and targeting duties on $300 billion more.

Mr Trump has said the U.S. will make a deal with China "when the time is right".

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