Davos – The first day of the World Economic Forum in Davos was Chinese “par excellence”, as President Xi Jinping attracted world attention by defending economic globalization at a time of economic uncertainty.
Addressing around 3,000 world economic and political leaders in Switzerland, the Chinese president presented his country as the new advocate of free trade and investment.
Xi warned against pursuing protectionist trade strategies and stressed that there would be no winners from a trade war.
“Pursuing protectionism is like locking oneself in a dark room,” he said. “Wind and rain may be kept outside, but so is light and air”, he added.
The Chinese president’s remarks came in response to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, who had pledged to protect U.S. firms from unfair overseas competition and threatened tariffs on goods from China and Mexico.
“No one will emerge as a winner in a trade war,” Xi said.
Meanwhile, a senior member of Donald Trump’s team insisted that the president-elect was committed to globalization, open trade and NATO, despite recent comments that sparked a wave of uneasy reactions among world leaders.
Anthony Scaramucci, Trump’s newly appointed public liaison official, told participants at the Davos forum on Tuesday that politicians and economists had misunderstood Trump and would change their views when he took office.
“If the Chinese believe in globalization they have to reach to us and create this symmetry because the path to more prosperity is via the American middle class and workers. Trump could be one of the last great hopes for globalism”, he said.
In comments to Asharq al-Awsat newspaper at the sidelines of the forum, Scaramucci said that Trump was aware of the long and historic ties between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.
He added that the Kingdom was rich in young dynamic leaders, expressing Trump’s certitude that Riyadh would play a major role in any peace agreement between Israel and Palestine, along with Jordan.
In his speech at the WEF, the U.S. official denied that Trump was seeking to dismantle NATO, despite comments in an interview with a British newspaper at the weekend in which he said the alliance “was obsolete”.
Scaramucci explained that the president-elect was trying to “renovate” — or update — a treaty that has been forged after the Second World War in vastly different conditions from the present.