Xi Jinping, China’s President, has been hard at work throughout 2016 on securing good trade relations in many areas of the world. In the 12 months of 2016, Xi spent much of his time abroad visiting with world leaders, discussing trade and power politics. At the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Xi Jinping continued his quest for globalism and defended its principles in a first-time ever speech. This was the first time a Chinese head of state had appeared at the Switzerland annual meeting of political and financial powerhouses. The speech’s contents are wildly unlike the ideas of previous Chinese leaders and seemingly has become a champion of globalism.
At China’s corner of politics, the US president-elect Donald Trump seems to be standing at the opposing side. Since Trump’s inauguration, through his tweets, has been indirectly drumming up resentment from Chinese officials, and possibly unknowingly causing foreign relations blunders before even stepping into the white house. But during Xi’s speech, Donald Trump was never mentioned. But, Xi made sure that his speech made sure to address Trump’s style of rhetoric, and discussed the importance of globalism.
Xi’s main points were that there are “no points” in blaming economic globalization for any of the world’s problems, much like what new governments (as in the US and UK) have been spouting. He likened protectionism to “locking oneself in a dark room” keeping out “light and air”. He called for countries to maintain their commitments under the Paris climate accord. In contrast, Trump has already promised the US would drop out of the pact.
Reuters writes that the speech at Davos focused on Beijing’s desire to play a bigger global role seeing how the US and much of Europe have turned inwards. These sentiments were also shared by other observers, stating Xi truly focused on the importance of globalism, and that China is ready to step up to the occasion that the US and the west refuses to take part in.
The speech was very well accepted at Davos, but there remains much skepticism about the speech’s contents, as well as China’s other concerns. Writers of the Wall Street Journal believe that Xi’s vision of globalization is much different than what many other believe it to be. China is still a one-party system, much different than the west, and focuses on race-based identity over multiculturism.
Browne, a Wall Street Journal writer, argues that Xi’s plan to expand free trade and its infrastructure is not so much to cut down the national barriers, but more like bringing the Asian region under the reigns of China.
It will definitely be interesting to see the outcome of 2017, how China will act, and if China will truly step up to the plate during a Trump administration.