Chinese President Xi Jinping. (Photographer: Christophe Morin/Bloomberg)

China’s Xi Calls Efforts to Reshape Other Nations ‘Foolish’

(Bloomberg) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping denounced as “foolish” foreign efforts to reshape other nations as he pushes back against U.S. trade demands.

“To think that one’s own race and civilization are superior to others, and to insist on transforming or even replacing other civilizations, is foolish in understanding and disastrous in practice,” Xi said Wednesday at the opening ceremony of the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations in Beijing. He made no direct mention of the trade dispute or the U.S. in his remarks.

China’s Xi Calls Efforts to Reshape Other Nations ‘Foolish’

Xi’s speech at the regional gathering Wednesday was closely watched since it was his first address since the U.S. proposed billions of dollars of fresh tariffs on Chinese goods. His sentiments were likely to resonate for an audience including representatives from several former colonies, and the crowd applauded after his "foolish" remark.

“Exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations should be reciprocal and equal,” Xi said. “They should be diversified and multidirectional, rather than compulsory or coercive. They should not be one-way.”

The presidents of Greece, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Armenia and Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni are attending this week’s forum. China has invested in Sri Lanka and Cambodia under Xi’s Belt and Road trade and infrastructure program.

Trade Dispute

More than a year into the trade war between the U.S. and China, signs point to a deepening in their economic rift as both sides signal an unwillingness to compromise. Chinese state media has stepped up its rhetoric in the days since President Donald Trump’s administration released its list of proposed new tariffs, with state television proclaiming the country will “fight to the end if the U.S. wants to.”

“The Chinese people’s beliefs are united and their determination as strong as a rock to safeguard national unity and territorial integrity, and defend national interests and dignity,” Xi said Tuesday when meeting with visiting Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos.

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