Chinese President Xi Jinping denounced as "foolish" foreign efforts to reshape other nations as he pushes back against USA trade demands.
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.
Just before Mr Xi spoke, the government reported surprisingly weaker growth in retail sales and industrial output for April.
On Monday, China retaliated with an announcement that it would raise tariffs on $60 billion worth of United States goods from June 1.
Stating that no civilisation is superior to the other, Xi, also the General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party of China, said, "It is foolish to believe that one's race and civilisation are superior to others, and it is disastrous to wilfully reshape or even replace other civilisations".
"Today's China is not only China's China". He made no direct reference to the trade tension, focusing instead on presenting China as a non-threatening country open to all. It is Asia's China and the world's China. China in the future will take on an even more open stance to embrace the world.
Xi's decision on Monday to raise tariffs on USA imports came after President Donald Trump announced on Friday that he would impose increased levies on Chinese imports to encourage U.S. businesses to invest in American production.
"We should not only make our own civilization full of vigor and vitality but also create conditions for the development of other civilizations so that all the world's civilizations will flourish", Xi said.
His remarks came after a top-level USA official last month described the rivalry between China and the U.S. as "a fight with a really different civilisation and a different ideology".
"Exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations should be reciprocal and equal", Xi said.
Mr Xi offered no new concrete measures to open China up, aside from proposing an Asia tourism promotion plan.
Officials have billed the forum as part of a soft power push to put a gentler face on China's growing might, though it only attracted a handful of foreign leaders to attend the opening session where Xi spoke, including the presidents of Greece, Sri Lanka and Singapore.
China has faced opposition to some of its global ambitions, mainly in the West but especially in the United States, where there has been suspicion of Chinese technology, Xi's Belt and Road Initiative to re-create the Old Silk Road, and government-run Confucius Institutes to teach the Chinese language.