US State Department’s Kiron Skinner had provoked criticism by calling competition with China ‘a fight with a really different civilisation’
In the latest sign that the confrontation between China and the United States is escalating, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned that one civilisation forcing itself on another would be “stupid” and “disastrous”.
Xi’s remarks, delivered at the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilisations, where Beijing demonstrated its soft power, did not mention the US but were regarded as the highest level response yet to tough rhetoric from Washington.
Analysts said confrontation would lead China to more forcefully promote its initiatives, which will push the US towards a more confrontational stance and further damage bilateral relations.
Xi’s speech took place two weeks after US State Department director of policy planning Kiron Skinner described 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 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.
“If someone thinks their own race and civilisation is superior and insists on remoulding or replacing other civilisations, it would be a stupid idea and disastrous act,” Xi said.
“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.”
He went on to say: “If countries retreat to secluded islands, human civilisation will die out because of a lack of exchanges.”
Xi said that people should step outside the confines of their culture to discover the advantages of others, and argued it was the best way to inspire innovation.