Will China become the new superpower in Davos?

The World Economic Forum in the Swedish resort of Davos begins on Tuesday with Donald Trump's presidency set to dominate the discussions. Observers predict that Trump's protectionism will turn the global economic system on its head and that China will champion globalisation.

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Le Temps (CH) /

China seizing its chance

The presence of Xi Jinping at the World Economic Forum in Davos - the first time a Chinese president has attended the meeting - points to China's interest in replacing the US as the leading global economic power, Christoph Weber, a former representative of the Forum in China, writes in Le Temps:

“President Xi Jinping's decision to come to Davos at the start of 2017 is no coincidence. Because if the president-elect Donald Trump does not go back on his statements about revising numerous international trade deals, he will leave the field to other nations, including China, to play a leading role in the process of globalisation. ... In the absence of representatives of the US administration, Davos is now the ideal platform for President Xi Jinping to present his vision of the emerging world and a programme that takes advantage of the void if the US retreats into protectionism.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

The rocky road to world power

Even if Xi Jinping's appearance in Davos leads one to believe otherwise China will not replace the US as the major world power any time soon, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung comments:

“The communist leadership needs to focus most of its energy on domestic concerns, and that does not look set to change in the near future. ... Its growing middle class wants to live well, travel and find well-paid work. Economically speaking, China has above all picked the fruit from the low-hanging branches. Now the system - which is still very much based on state-subsidised heavy industry and cheap exports - urgently needs to be reformed. ... China's power is based on a different foundation than America's. The communist leadership doesn't want to force its outlook on anyone. Instead it is showing that although it neglects human rights and the freedom of opinion, disrespects the rule of law and lacks charisma, it is moving forward in the world.”

Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

Waiting for the future president's tweets

Donald Trump is not present in Davos but he will influence the meeting of the global economic elite more than anyone else, Hospodářské noviny predicts:

“The new president will take his oath at the same time as the participants peer into the uncertain future and wait for his latest tweets. The organisers have had to completely rewrite their analyses for Davos and have come to the unsurprising conclusion that Trump's election and the Brexit will change the course of the world in the next ten years. ... Trump's inauguration raises the fundamental question of whether we are not going through a crisis of democracy as a political model. And whether the elites in Davos don't live in a completely different world than their voters or employees. That is the key question. Trump could be the one who forces the West to rethink its position.”

Salzburger Nachrichten (AT) /

A forum for a world in turmoil

The global political context in which this week's World Economic Forum in Davos takes place is more fragile than ever before, Salzburger Nachrichten comments:

“There is certainly no lack of topics for discussion for the participants in the World Economic Forum, but this time the discussions will take place in a climate and political context that is radically different to that of the struggle against the financial crisis. The focus is no longer on the things they have in common but on egoism. Countries are sealing off their borders instead of cooperating with each other. Nationalism is gaining the upper hand against international strategies. The election of Donald Trump is a symptom of these trends, as is the outcome of the UK's vote on Brexit. The fragile state of global politics is shaping the assessments of the prospects for the global economy.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

China as the saviour of free trade

Xi Jinping will become the first Chinese president to visit the World Economic Forum in Davos on Tuesday. Thanks to Trump China now has the opportunity to fill a big gap in the global economy, Corriere della Sera believes:

“Xi Jinping is the announced star of the World Economic Forum in Davos. Unsettled by the danger of a confrontation between the US and China, the world's economic and financial VIPs expect the Chinese president to play the role of the saviour of free trade. Tomorrow he will talk about 're-globalisation' and present a 'vision of the common destiny of mankind'. Xinhua news agency has perhaps rightly presented his mission as epoch making. ... Because with Trump putting his weight behind protectionism and Europe besieged by populism, the Chinese president - who is a communist officially but a capitalist in practice - will be welcomed like a knight in shining armour.”