World Economic Forum – Davos

Xi Jinping's speech boosts global confidence: Chinese media

Mr Xi Jinping, the first Chinese president to address the World Economic Forum at Davos, called for greater representation and inclusiveness as an answer to the problems of globalisation resulting from uneven global development.
Mr Xi Jinping, the first Chinese president to address the World Economic Forum at Davos, called for greater representation and inclusiveness as an answer to the problems of globalisation resulting from uneven global development.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

But poll finds foreign firms doubt China's vow to open markets

China's media and commentators have applauded President Xi Jinping's speech at Davos as boosting global confidence and offering a better vision of globalisation.

However, a report by the American Chamber of Commerce in China yesterday showed foreign companies were sceptical about China's vow to open its markets, which Mr Xi reiterated in Tuesday's speech.

Mr Xi, the first Chinese president to address the World Economic Forum at Davos, had called for greater representation and inclusiveness as an answer to the problems of globalisation resulting from uneven global development.

"Just blaming economic globalisation for the world's problems is inconsistent with reality, and it will not help solve the problems," he said. Instead, "we should adapt to and guide economic globalisation, cushion its negative impact, and deliver its benefits to all countries and all nations", he added.

This meant developing an economic model that is open and inclusive, and governed by fair and equitable rules. His speech came as anti-globalisation sentiments swept the United States and Europe, leading to the protectionist Donald Trump winning the US presidential election and to Britain voting to leave the European Union.

Mr Xi, the first Chinese president to address the World Economic Forum at Davos, had called for greater representation and inclusiveness as an answer to the problems of globalisation resulting from uneven global development.

China's official Xinhua news agency ran a commentary yesterday, headlined "Xi and his better version of globalisation".

It noted that with most parts of the world now interconnected, reversing the process now when global growth is weak "would be short- sighted and disastrous". It said, given that "finding the right path to globalisation is the only rational option, the road map Xi has offered could be the wave of the future".

Separately, in an interview with Xinhua, former World Bank chief economist Lin Yifu said Mr Xi's speech "is a very important speech at a very critical moment".

"I think it is very crucial that President Xi clarified the (economic globalisation) concept to the world, to continue to promote globalisation, to promote global development, and push forward the global agreements that have been reached in the past, such as the Paris climate agreement," he added.

The China Daily quoted international relations analyst Jin Yong as saying the time is right for China to step up and boost global confidence, given the uncertainties caused by the leadership transition in the US and divisions in Europe.

However, Mr Xi's pledge in his speech that "China's development will continue to offer opportunities to business communities in other countries", and that it would "keep its door wide open and not close it", has been called into question by recent accusations of protectionism.

The American Chamber of Commerce in China's annual survey of its members showed 80 per cent of respondents believed foreign companies were less welcome than in the past, reported Reuters.

Of the 462 companies surveyed, including US firms and multinationals, more than 60 per cent said they had "little or no confidence that the government is committed to opening China's markets further in the next three years".

"More companies are slowing investments and deprioritising China as an investment destination due to slowing growth and increased concerns over barriers to market entry, the regulatory environment and rising costs," Reuters quoted the chamber as saying.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2017, with the headline 'Xi's speech boosts global confidence: Chinese media '. Print Edition | Subscribe