Xi has a message for world’s elite

PRESIDENT Xi Jinping will promote “inclusive globalization” at next week’s World Economic Forum in Davos and will warn that populist approaches can lead to “war and poverty,” Chinese officials said yesterday.

This year’s forum, from January 17 to 20, is expected to be dominated by discussion of the surge in public hostility toward globalization and the rise of US President-elect Donald Trump, whose tough talk on trade, including promises of tariffs against China and Mexico, helped win him the White House. Trump is being sworn in on January 20.

Xi is the first Chinese president to attend the forum in Davos, which brings together top-level political and business leaders.

Jiang Jianguo, head of the State Council Information Office, told a World Trade Organization symposium in Geneva that Xi would go to Davos to push for development, cooperation and economic globalization in order to build “a human community with shared destiny.” He added: “With the rise of populism, protectionism and nativism, the world has come to a historic crossroads where one road leads to war, poverty, confrontation and domination while the other road leads to peace, development, cooperation and win-win solutions.”

At a briefing in Beijing on the Davos visit, Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong said China would respond to the international community’s concern over globalization by putting forward China’s opinions on how to “steer economic globalization toward greater inclusiveness.”

Li said criticism of trade protectionism levelled at China, by Trump and others, was unjust. “Trade protectionism will lead to isolation and is in the interests of no one,” he said.

“Channels of communication are open” between China and Trump’s transition team at the forum, Li said, but he warned that scheduling a meeting might be difficult.

Xi will attend the forum on Tuesday during a state visit to Switzerland which begins on Sunday.

The United States will be represented at Davos by Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry, days before they leave office, as well as a representative from the Trump transition team, the WEF said.

This year’s forum should be seen as a call for “responsible and responsive leadership,” WEF founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab said.

The event is expected to draw a record 3,000 eminent political and business figures to Davos, which usually has just 12,000 inhabitants. Schwab, 78, said he hoped the gathering could brainstorm on how to address “root causes” of the widespread anxiety seen in the world today.

“Why the people are angry, and why they are not satisfied,” he said, insisting on the need for “responsibility which needs courage and which needs decision-making and which needs action orientation.

“We will have in Davos numerous initiatives … which together may make positive contributions, not only to economic development, but also to social, more inclusive progress,” he said.

Schwab said the main interest at the forum “probably will be with the unique Chinese delegation, which will be in Davos under the leadership of President Xi.”

He expected the US transition to be one of the hot topics. There would also be “great interest given to the question of Brexit and the future of Europe.”

Davos will feature new UN chief Antonio Guterres this year, as well as ministers representing 70 countries, including all G20 nations. The heads of some 1,000 companies are expected to attend, among them Alibaba founder Jack Ma, Dalian Wanda Group chairman Wang Jianlin and Baidu President Zhang Yaqin.

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