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17.01.2017 13:15 The year of the Dragon?

President Xi is welcomed to the podium at WEF by Klaus Schwab


All the talk at WEF this year has been about the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping. What would he say during his opening address? Would he make attempt to trump the United States? President Xi did not disappoint, over-running his time slot by 20 minutes.

His hour in the limelight included plenty of digs at the US and the threatened protectionist policies of incoming President Donald Trump. China appears to have assumed the mantle as global leader of free trade and economic innovation.

In a scarcely veiled dig at Trump’s intentions to “build a wall” between the US and Mexico while walking away from global trade negotiations, Xi said that “pursuing protectionism is like locking yourself in a dark room. While the wind and the rain may be kept outside, so will brightness and fresh air.”

Countries “should not develop the habit of retreating to harbour when encountering a storm”, he added.

Xi also demanded a level playing field and an equal voice for China in world organisations such as the International Monetary Fund.

By comparison to the US, Sino-Swiss relations could not look any brighter at the moment. President Xi has concluded a number of deals during his state visit to Switzerland, including enhancements to the current free trade agreement between the two countries.

China and Switzerland also jointly declared 2017 as a “year of tourism”, pledging to work together to boost bilateral tourist numbers. Xi said the Sino-Swiss cooperation should “serve as a model to other countries”.

“The Swiss government appreciates that China is assuming more and more responsibility amid many global challenges,” Swiss President Doris Leuthard said on Monday.

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