All eyes were on the Chinese President’s address at the World Economic Forum in Davos, as he gave a vigorous defence of free trade.
In the first ever speech by a Chinese leader at the annual gathering, Xi Jinping warned against protectionism, an apparent reference to President-elect Trump’s so-called “America first” policies.
“Pursuing protectionism is just like locking oneself in a dark room,” he said.
“While wind and rain may be kept outside so are light and air. No one will emerge as a winner in a trade war.”
The speech by the Chinese president is in sharp contrast to the rhetoric from Donald Trump in recent days https://t.co/33eSNonnZU— Financial Times (@FT) January 17, 2017
Experts say the speech made it clear that Beijing is ready to play a major role on the world economic stage as the US threatens to turn inwards.
China’s Xi Jinping speech seen as move for global leadership role https://t.co/SPGysXFAqw— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) January 17, 2017
One of those listening to the speech was Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at the consulting firm IHS Inc.
“I think it was a very strong message to the Trump people, as I said, that they don’t want to do a currency war,” he said. “They don’t want to do a trade war.”
“So one way or another hopefully that is heard by the Trump people and they come to their senses in some sense and don’t start a process that could escalate into a trade war.
“Our sense is that the chances of a trade war are still fairly low, but still, you know, never know. “
Trump spoke out often against China during the election campaign, vowing to tear up or renegotiate multilateral trade deals and bring in tariffs on imported goods.