Wednesday 20 September 2017

Chinese president defends globalisation in face of mounting hostility at Davos

* Xi is first Chinese president to appear at WEF
* Appearance comes amid rising tensions with Trump team
* China economy worries ease but big risks remain

Swiss President Doris Leuthard stands next to China's President Xi Jinping as they launch the Swiss-Sino year of tourism next to a panda ice sculpture on the side line of the 47th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Laurent Gillieron/Pool
Swiss President Doris Leuthard stands next to China's President Xi Jinping as they launch the Swiss-Sino year of tourism next to a panda ice sculpture on the side line of the 47th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Laurent Gillieron/Pool

Noah Barkin

Economic globalisation has become a "Pandora's Box" for many, but global problems are not caused by it, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday.

Xi told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that international financial crises were caused by the excessive pursuit of profits, not globalisation

Xi's appearance, a first for a Chinese leader at the annual meeting of political leaders, CEOs and bankers in Davos, comes as the part the United States plays as a force for multilateral cooperation on issues like trade and climate change is in doubt following the election of Donald Trump.

Europe, meanwhile, is pre-occupied with its own troubles, from Brexit and militant attacks to the string of elections this year in which anti-globalisation populists could score gains.

This has left a vacuum that China seems eager to fill.

"It is no coincidence that Xi chose this year to make the trip up the magic mountain," said Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group, a U.S.-based political risk consultancy.

More than half a dozen senior Chinese government figures will be in Davos this week, far more than in past years. And a large number of sessions are focused on Asia, including one entitled "Asia Takes the Lead".

WEF founder Klaus Schwab said Xi's presence was a sign of the shift from a uni-polar world dominated by the United States to a more multi-polar system in which rising powers like China will have to step up and play a bigger role.

Colombian singer Shakira and U.S. actor Forest Whitaker are pictured during the Crystal Awards ceremony of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland January 16, 2017. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich
Colombian singer Shakira and U.S. actor Forest Whitaker are pictured during the Crystal Awards ceremony of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland January 16, 2017. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich
Swiss police patrol outside the congress center of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland January 16, 2017. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich
FILE PHOTO: A general view of Davos during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland January 22, 2016. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich/File Photo
German violinist Anne Sophie Mutter receives the Crystal Award by Hilde Schwab, wife of World Economic Forum (WEF) Executive Chairman and founder Klaus Schwab during the annual meeting of the Forum in Davos, Switzerland January 16, 2017. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich
U.S. actor Forest Whitaker walks off stage after receiving the Crystal Award during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland January 16, 2017. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich
Belgium's Queen Mathilde (L) listens to Former Danish Prime Minister and CEO of Save the Children International Helle Thorning-Schmidt druing the Crystal Awards ceremony of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland January 16, 2017. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich
Colombian singer Shakira speaks after receiving the Crystal Award during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland January 16, 2017. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich
Colombian singer Shakira, U.S. actor Forest Whitaker and German violinist Anne Sophie Mutter pose for the media after receiving the Crystal Award at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland January 16, 2017. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich
Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman of Bharti Enterprises attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich
Ruth Porat, Senior Vice-President and CFO of Alphabet attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting of the Forum in Davos, Switzerland January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich
Tidjane Thiam, CEO of the Credit Suisse bank attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting of the Forum in Davos, Switzerland January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich
Andrew Liveris, Chairman and CEO The Dow Chemical Company attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich
REFILE - CORRECTING HEADLINE Martin Sorrell CEO of WPP attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich
Anthony Scaramucci, Assistant to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and Director of Public Liaison attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich
Li Daokui, Dean of Schwarzman College Tsinghua University attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich
Two armed Swiss police officers stand on a roof top during the 'World Economic Forum' in Davos, Switzerland, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. Business and world leaders are gathering for the annual meeting 'World Economic Forum ' in Davos. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
CEO of WPP Plc Sir Marin Sorrell gestures as he speaks during a panel 'Size matters: The Future of Big Business' at the 'World Economic Forum' in Davos, Switzerland, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. Business and world leaders are gathering for the annual meeting 'World Economic Forum ' in Davos. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Thoma Jordan, Chairman of the Governing Board of the Swiss National Bank (SNB) attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich
John Cryan, Chief Executive Officer of Deutsche Bank, speaks during a panel session on the first day of the 47th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, WEF, in Davos, Switzerland, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. (Gian Ehrenzeller/Keystone via AP)
Axel Weber, Chairman of the Board of Directors of UBS bank attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich
CEO of Credit Suisse Tidjane Thiam gestures as he speaks during a panel 'Size matters: The Future of Big Business' at the 'World Economic Forum' in Davos, Switzerland, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. Business and world leaders are gathering for the annual meeting 'World Economic Forum ' in Davos. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
David Rubenstein, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of the Carlyle Group attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich
Anthony Scaramucci, Assistant to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and Director of Public Liaison attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich
Carmen Reinhart, Minos A. Zombanakis Professor of the International Financial System at Harvard Kennedy School attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich
Chinese President Xi Jinping attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich
Swiss President Doris Leuthard stands next to China's President Xi Jinping as they launch the Swiss-Sino year of tourism next to a panda ice sculpture on the side line of the 47th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Laurent Gillieron/Pool
Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) and his wife Peng Liyuan attend the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich
(L-R) Swiss President Doris Leuthard, her husband Roland Hausin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan stand in front of a panda ice sculpture as they launch the Swiss-Sino year of tourism on the side line of the 47th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Laurent Gillieron/Pool

"We can hope that China in this new world will assume a responsive and responsible leadership role," Schwab told Reuters. "So in some ways it is very symbolic to have the president of China here."

"TAKE OFF THE GLOVES"

Xi's appearance comes amid rising tensions between Beijing and president-elect Trump, who will be inaugurated on Friday, the final day of the Davos meeting.

Trump campaigned on a promise to confront China more aggressively on trade and broke with decades of precedent last month by taking a congratulatory telephone call from the president of Taiwan, which Beijing sees as part of China.

He has not toned down his rhetoric since, saying only last week that America's "One China" policy was up for negotiation, triggering a furious response from state-run Chinese newspapers.

"If Trump is determined to use this gambit in taking office, a period of fierce, damaging interactions will be unavoidable, as Beijing will have no choice but to take off the gloves," the English-language China Daily said.

Xi is not expected to wade into the tit-for-tat with Trump in Davos. Speaking in the Swiss capital Bern on the eve of his speech, he stressed the importance of cooperation.

"Protectionism, populism and de-globalisation are on the rise. It's not good for closer economic cooperation globally," Xi said.

China, the world's top exporter, is heavily dependent on free trade and could be hit hard by a new wave of protectionism.

Fears of a hard economic landing in China roiled global markets during last year's Davos.

And while those concerns have eased, the International Monetary Fund warned on Monday of ongoing risks to the economy, including its high reliance on government spending, record lending by state banks and an overheating property market.

FILE PHOTO: A general view of Davos during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland January 22, 2016. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A general view of Davos during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland January 22, 2016. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich/File Photo

"China is still one of the biggest risks, and I think the only reason it is not at the top of the list is that the United States has become such a locus of uncertainty," Kenneth Rogoff, an economist at Harvard University, told Reuters.

Telegraph.co.uk

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