European leaders snub forum despite focus on combating rise of populism
While Premiers of China, including the current Premier Li Keqiang, have attended Davos in the past, Jinping’s attendance marks the first time a Chinese president (who also serves as the head of the Chinese Communist Party) will attend the World Economic Forum.
Jinping is expected to address his desire to move “economic globalization towards greater inclusiveness.”
“Clearly it signals that Xi Jinping is now interested in writing both China and himself in a grander way on the global diplomatic horizon,” said Orville Schell, director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society. “He feels it’s time to really come out. Behind that probably is an assumption and wishful thinking that the U.S. is in disarray, Europe is feckless, and so on.”
“He’ll be received almost as the number one citizen at Davos.”
The organizers of the World Economic Forum, mindful of a rising populist sentiment across Europe and the United States that resulted in a successful referendum for the UK to leave the European Union and the election of President Donald Trump, have cast this year’s theme as “responsive and responsible leadership.”
“Every simplified approach to deal with the global complex agenda is condemned to fail. We cannot just have populist solutions,” said Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum. “The problems we face technologically, economically, socially and politically are so tremendous, such that sustainable solutions requite a systemic, holistic approach… and particularly the collaboration of all global stakeholders, united in one mission – improving the state of the world.”
Despite the inclusion of populism on the agenda, many European leaders have paradoxically decided to not attend this year’s forum.
The leaders of France, Germany, Italy, and Spain have all indicated they will not attend, opting to send their respective finance ministers instead.
The United States will be represented by Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry; as the forum’s closing ceremony will take place just hours before Trump is inaugurated, he will be represented by transition team member Anthony Scaramucci.