BEIJING (Dispatches) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping declared Wednesday there was "no clash" of civilizations and denounced racial supremacy as "stupid" amid tensions with the United States and concerns over Beijing's rising global power.
His remarks came after a top-level U.S. official last month described the rivalry between China and the U.S. as "a fight with a really different civilization and a different ideology".
Kiron Skinner, the director of policy planning at the U.S. State Department, put it in racial terms, telling a security forum that China was the first U.S. "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 civilizations is stupid in its understanding and disastrous in practice," Xi said at the opening ceremony of the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations in Beijing.
"There is no clash between different civilizations, (we) just need to have the eye to appreciate the beauty in all civilizations," he added, without mentioning the United States.
Xi's speech comes less than a week after trade negotiations between Washington and Beijing took a turn for the worse, with the U.S. hiking tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese merchandise and targeting duties on $300 billion more.
On Monday, China retaliated with an announcement that it would raise tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. goods from June 1.
President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order this week barring U.S. companies from using telecommunications equipment made by firms posing a national security risk, paving the way for a ban on doing business with China’s Huawei, three U.S. officials familiar with the plan told Reuters.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said during a daily briefing in Beijing on Wednesday that the United States had been "abusing its national power” to "deliberately smear” and suppress certain Chinese companies.
"This is not honorable, nor is it just,” he said.
"We urge the United States to stop using the excuse of security issues to unreasonably suppress Chinese companies, and provide a fair, just, non-discriminatory environment for Chinese companies carrying out normal investments and operations in the United States.”
The United States has been actively pushing other countries not to use Huawei’s equipment in next-generation 5G networks that it calls "untrustworthy.” In August, Trump signed a bill that barred the U.S. government itself from using equipment from Huawei and another Chinese provider, ZTE Corp.