Chinese president Xi Jinping used his first appearance at the World Economic Forum to mount a robust defence of globalisation.
“It is the result of growing social productivity and is the natural outcome of scientific and technological advances”, Xi said in the forum’s Opening Plenary. “It is not something created by any individuals or any countries”.
This year’s annual gathering of the world’s leading politicians and businessmen focused on “responsible and responsive leadership” and Xi was widely expected to use his address in Davos to set out China’s stall as Donald Trump becomes US president.
Xi Jinping kicked off his speech by quoting Charles Dickens, describing the global outlook for 2017 as “the best of times, and the worst of times”.
Having outlined the historic benefits of globalisation to both China and the rest of the world, Xi told delegates that open markets also had their pitfalls, and has been “inadequate in terms of representation and inclusiveness”.
"It is true that economic globalisation has created new problems, but this is no justification to write it off altogether”, he said. “Rather we should adapt to and guide economic globalisation, cushion its negative impacts, and deliver its benefits to all countries".
In what has been interpreted as a rejection of the trade policies of the incoming Trump administration, Xi explicitly rebuffed a return to protectionism.
"Pursuing protectionism is just like locking oneself in a dark room". “No one will emerge as a winner in a trade war." "You cannot go back to isolated creeks. This is simply not possible, and indeed it runs counter to the historical trend”.
“We should say no to protectionism. No one wins in a trade war".
In a parallel measure, the Chinese government yesterday announced that it would be making investment in China easier. A statement posted on the official PRC website outlined the measures the State Council would be making to ease restrictions on foreign entities trading in securities, futures, insurance, credit ratings, accounting and other areas.
The statement also said that foreign-invested firms would be allowed to list on the Shanghai and Shenzhen exchanges as well as having the right to issue both convertible and corporate bonds.
Xi Jinping’s appearance at Davos is the first appearance by any Chinese president at the World Economic Forum. Theresa May is speaking on Thursday and chancellor Philip Hammond will be speaking on the subject of Britain’s relationship with the EU on Friday.
US president-elect Donald Trump will not be attending this year’s conference but has sent a member of his transition team, the hedge fund manager, Anthony Scaramucci.
"We should join hands and rise to the challenge”, the Chinese president said in his closing remarks. “History is created by the brave".