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Xi Jinping

Chinese president presses pro-trade message in Switzerland before landmark Davos address

President expected to cover similar ground in keynote speech to World Economic Forum

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 January, 2017, 11:43pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 January, 2017, 8:08am

President Xi Jinping warned against protectionism and populism on Monday, ahead of his keynote address on Tuesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Xi made the remarks to business executives in Bern, Switzerland, a country China is seeking to consolidate relations with amid fears of a spreading anti-globalisation movement.

“Protectionism, populism and de-globalisation are on the rise. It’s not good for closer economic cooperation globally,” Xi said, adding that Switzerland and China would work together to ­reject all forms of protectionism.

Chinese President Xi Jinping travels to Davos with a tough sell on his hands

Xi arrived in Bern on Sunday. He will be the first Chinese president to deliver the keynote speech at the World Economic Forum at the Swiss resort of Davos, which will be attended by some 3,000 members of the world’s political and business elite.

Xi is expected to send a pro-globalisation message in his speech at the forum.

In talks with his Swiss counterpart Doris Leuthard on Sunday, Xi highlighted the importance of China-Switzerland cooperation in an international situation that was “complicated and fast changing”, Xinhua reported.

The two leaders agreed to further boost bilateral cooperation in science and technology, innovation, connectivity, infrastructure construction, clean energy and regional-level exchanges.

Donald Trump, who won the US presidential election on an anti-globalisation platform, will be inaugurated on Friday, the final day of the Davos forum.

Fears that a new wave of populism will hit Europe are growing, with at least three elections to be conducted on the continent this year, including ones in Germany, the Netherlands and France.

Zhang Shengjun, a professor of international relations at Beijing Normal University, said Switzerland was one of the more stable countries in Europe and well connected to other states in the region.

“Both Europe and the US are facing great uncertainties with Brexit [Britain’s vote to leave the EU] and the rise of right-wing populism,” Zhang said.

Xi Jinping to be first Chinese president to attend Davos World Economic Forum

“There is a great need for China to step up and provide reassurance and confidence to the world on pushing ahead with ­globalisation.”

Ding Chun, director of the Centre for European Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, said Switzerland – the first European nation to recognise China’s market economy status in 2007 – was amenable to Beijing’s pro-trade agenda.

In his remarks to the Swiss executives, Xi said that China’s economy would remain stable and keep growing.

scmp.com will have live transmission of Xi’s speech at Davos Tuesday late afternoon.

Additional reporting by Reuters