President Xi Jinping this month will become the first Chinese head of state to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, as the foreign ministry on Tuesday confirmed his widely-expected attendance at the annual meeting in the Swiss Alps. This year’s forum is expected to be dominated by debate over public anger with globalisation and the coming presidency of Donald Trump, who won the White House in part with promises to pull the United States out of international trade deals and hike tariffs against China and Mexico.
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Xi Jinping will take centre stage at the gathering of political leaders, CEOs and celebrities which runs from Jan. 17-20, as China presents itself as a champion of globalisation. The president will travel to Switzerland from Jan. 15-18 for a state visit and to attend the Davos meeting, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a regular press briefing.
He will also visit the United Nations offices in Geneva, and the offices of the World Health Organization and the International Olympic Committee, Lu said. He did not give further details about the trip. Other global leaders, including WEF regular German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, will not attend the forum. Trump takes office on Jan. 20 just as the WEF meeting closes, but some members of his team are expected to travel to Davos.
Xi Jinping led a forum of Asia-Pacific leaders in Peru in November in vowing to fight protectionism, just days after Trump won the US election having pledged to pull out of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. Foreign businesses in China, however, have long complained about a lack of market access and protectionist Chinese policies, including a Made in China 2025 plan, which calls for a progressive increase in domestic components in sectors such as advanced information technology and robotics.