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'China’s Xi Champions Multilateralism at Davos, Again'

The Diplomat

Malcolm Riddell

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CHINADebate

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Elenor Albert | George Washington University

'China’s Xi Champions Multilateralism at Davos, Again' 'China’s Xi Champions Multilateralism at Davos, Again'
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'Xi Jinping's Davos' Speech'
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'Xi Jinping's Davos' Speech'
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'Xi Jinping's Davos' Speech'

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'Xi Jinping's Davos' Speech'

‘While Xi’s speech may have echoed similar themes from his 2017 address, today’s circumstances are markedly different.’

‘In his 25-minute speech at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on January 25, Chinese President Xi Jinping called on countries to uphold international rules and to remain “committed to openness and inclusiveness.” ’

  • ‘ “The problems facing the world are intricate and complex. The way out of them is through upholding multilateralism and building a community with a shared future for mankind,” Xi said.’
  • ‘The address was the Chinese leader’s first appearance at Davos in four years, following a speech in 2017 when he strongly advocated for free trade and defended the benefits of globalization.’

‘While Xi’s speech may have echoed similar themes from his 2017 address, today’s circumstances are markedly different.’

  • ‘For one thing, despite trade tensions between Beijing and Washington, China’s economic position appears to have grown stronger.’
  • ‘In 2020, China emerged as the only major economy to avoid falling into recession in face of the COVID-19 pandemic, expanding by 2.3 percent while the U.S. economy and the eurozone are expected to have shrunk by 3.6 percent and 7.4 percent respectively.’

‘Xi’s speech outlined a series of major tasks for moving forward.’

  • ‘First, he urged countries to embrace openness and multilateralism. Part of his advocacy for multilateralism included bolstering the role of the G-20 – “the premier forum for global economic governance” in Xi’s words – to coordinate macroeconomic policy.’
  • ‘Second, Xi emphasized the importance of abiding by international law and international rules, stating that “international governance should be based on the rules and consensus reached among us, not on the order given by one or the few.” ’
  • ‘Third, Xi pushed for greater commitment to consultation, guaranteeing equal rights to development, and greater reform of the existing global governance system.’

‘Notably, Xi’s two Davos speeches both coincided with a leadership transition in the United States, the world’s largest economy.’

  • ‘While Beijing may have capitalized on the former Trump administration’s suspicion of and recoiling from multilateralism, its embrace of global governance has been an enduring characteristic of Xi Jinping’s leadership.’
  • ‘Xi’s latest speech may not have revealed a new direction for the country’s conduct of foreign affairs, but it underlined that Beijing remains resolute in leading the call for the Global South and the developing world to be given more voice, especially in times of crisis.’
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