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Xi's view at Davos still resonating in the world

By Cecily Liu and Wang Mingjie in London and Chen Weihua in Washington | | Updated: 2018-01-23 23:25
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Editor's note: Members of the world business elite look back on President Xi Jinping's historic speech made at the Davos Forum one year ago and comment on the Belt and Road Initiative.

The last 12 months have seen a period of very strong economic growth around the world. There are benefits to all in finding ways to work with each other rather than compete and fight. Sustainable development – like friendships – work when both sides win.

Although it is easy to be critical and negative, I think we should look back on the last year and see how much has been achieved. President Xi Jinping’s speech at Davos was an important statement in underlining the need to co-operate and to continue to do so.

It is clear to all commentators and scholars that what happens in China has a direct impact on the global economy and on international affairs. President Xi is playing an important role too in reminding other nations that inequality needs to be addressed and that lifting people out of poverty are two of the main goals of any government. It is not just nations that must think in terms of win-win; it is the same inside each country too.

-- Peter Frankopan, author of the international best-seller The Silk Roads: A New History of the World and a professor of global history at Oxford University

President Xi Jinping’s address at last year’s Davos opened up much philosophical and practical debate on the different emerging approaches taken by the leaders in different nations indeed, and it put into sharp relief the respective approaches of China and the US in particular.

As far as the UK is concerned – and I can talk specifically about the impact and outcomes in the West Midlands and Birmingham to give an example – Chinese investment in infrastructure, such as housing has already occurred with many more different types of investments under discussion and consideration. Indeed, I hosted a large delegation recently at our University where we as a city showcased many opportunities for win-win investment partnerships including, High Speed 2, one of the biggest infrastructure in this country.

I think Xi’s strategic vision has opened up other win-win partnership discussions with other sovereign and state investors who are following China's lead and equally, their confidence to explore opportunities and actually invest.

-- Professor Julian Beer, deputy Vice-Chancellor, Birmingham City University

President Xi Jinping's speech clearly came at a time – after Brexit and the election of Donald Trump – when much of the world was looking for leadership on the global issues of trade, climate and development and a more optimistic view of the opportunities coming from globalization. Even if the Trump administration has not yet inflicted as much damage on global institutions as feared at the time, it is clear that the US, at least for now, will not play the leading role in global affairs it has in the past. Each step of retreat by the US has opened an opportunity for China. My sense is that President Xi since the Davos speech has focused mainly on domestic matters in the preparation for the 19th CPC National Congress last year, but once the new government is in place I expect for China to engage more proactively. We already see this in the response to the announcement of US withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement and in the language on global trade, and of course in all the activities around the Belt and Road vision.

The Belt and Road Initiative is clearly a bold and open vision for global development. In my view, it has been kept intentionally broad and flexible to encourage initiative at various levels in the Chinese economy, but also in the many countries covered by the vision. From my experience, this is a very common and often effective way used by the Chinese leadership to stimulate new thinking and encourage initiative widely. There is no doubt that global political and business leaders are taking the initiative increasingly seriously, but it is now up to China to define the terms of the engagement with partners. I very much hope that China will do so in collaboration with existing international institutions taking into account the lessons from decades of development experience in different parts of the world.

-- Erik Berglof, director of the Institute of Global Affairs at the London School of Economics

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