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Xi first top Chinese leader at Davos

By ZHANG YUNBI | | Updated: 2017-01-11 05:26

Fighting trade protectionism, anti-globalization and boosting confidence in the Chinese economy will be high on President Xi Jinping's agenda as he becomes the first top Chinese leader to attend the World Economic Forum next week, observers said.

Xi will pay a state visit to Switzerland on Jan 15 to 18 and attend the forum's annual meeting in Davos on Jan 17 alongside corporate and political leaders, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Tuesday.

The meeting was attended by Premier Li Keqiang in 2015 and by Vice-President Li Yuanchao last year.

Widespread political reshuffling across the globe has dampened investor confidence and added uncertainty to the already sluggish growth of the world economy since the economic crisis in 2008.

World political and economic leaders also are anticipating Xi addressing the health of the world's second-largest economy in the wake of fluctuations in the yuan and Beijing's measures to rein in systematic financial risks, experts said.

Ruan Zonzge, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, said Xi's first trip to the Davos meeting is to address "the widespread lack of confidence over the prospects for the world economy and the lack of viable solutions".

Events last year, including the United Kingdom's vote to leave the European Union, "showcase the downward pressure of the global economy since the crisis in 2008", and "the gathering momentum against globalization and in favor of protectionism", Ruan warned.

The world is expecting China to deliver a strong voice against trade protectionism at the forum because the voices of smaller countries have not been enough of a counterbalance, Ruan added.

The forum also is being attended by such figures as British Prime Minister Theresa May and US Secretary of State John Kerry, AFP reported.

Chen Fengying, a senior researcher on the world economy at China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said, "We should make it clear (at the forum) that the existing international economic cooperative mechanisms should not be changed because of the change in state leaders."

Since the world economy and globalization are "at a crossroad and a turning point", it is time for Xi to demonstrate China's power and duty as a major developing country, Chen said.

Xi's comments also are highly anticipated because China's annual central economic work conference recently wrapped up, Chen noted.

"China's economy is also at a crossroads. We could get either sustained growth or massive risks breaking out," Chen said.

Huang Yiping, a member of the central bank monetary policy committee and an economist at Peking University, said China's current priorities include eliminating systematic financial risks and stabilizing its economic growth.

During his stay in Switzerland, Xi also will visit the offices of the World Health Organization, the United Nations and the International Olympic Committee.

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