Xi set agenda in 2017 for this year's forum, Davos mayor says

Updated 2018-01-24 09:26:01 China Daily

With President Xi Jinping raising the concept of a shared future for mankind at Geneva's United Nations headquarters last year, the 2018 World Economic Forum in Davos has made that idea the overarching theme of the four-day gathering in the Swiss ski resort, which began on Tuesday.

Tarzisius Caviezel, mayor of Davos, who received Xi last year, said it is of "great significance" to keep the continuation of the theme at this year's forum, at which up to 70 politicians will speak and U.S. President Donald Trump will make an address on Friday.

"The agenda-setters of the World Economic Forum are responsible for deciding the theme. Of course, they took important points out of President Xi's speech and developed them into the theme of this year's meeting of the World Economic Forum," said Caviezel in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.

"What is important is that they did not just take one point out. The whole program was developed based on President Xi's important thoughts in his speech."

Xi paid a state visit to Switzerland last year and spoke about an open economy, globalization, free trade and building a shared future of humankind when he delivered speeches in Davos and at Geneva's UN headquarters.

This year's theme is Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World.

Looking at his photos taken with Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan, the mayor recalled the visit as "a great time and the most important one" in the last few years of the World Economic Forum.

"The most important thing is that many people I met thought President Xi's speeches were surprisingly positive," said Caviezel.

James Pennington, project specialist of the World Economic Forum's Circular Economy initiative, has been closely watching how China has been turning Xi's calls in his speech into reality, saying in the year following the president's remarks China has doubled down on a number of core areas outlined in the address.

He said one year ago, Xi made a "landmark speech" to the audience in Davos, outlining his views on the major trends and challenges affecting the world, from slow growth and climate change to rapid advances in technology, inequality and inadequate and unrepresentative global governance.

"Last year saw how the action stands up to the rhetoric after Xi's Davos speech," said Pennington, who is responsible for policy engagement in China and across Africa.

Pennington said he was impressed by China's innovation efforts, increased environmental commitments and the unveiling a new framework for how it will engage on the world stage.

Caviezel said that after Xi's visit, the number of Chinese tourists traveling to his city has doubled, reaching up to 5,000 by the end of 2017, still a small percentage of the total number of visitors.

Talking about his possible reception of Trump on Friday, he said, "We hope we will have as good a dialogue with President Trump as we had with President Xi."

However, the mayor said it is not easy to foresee how the dialogue with Trump will go, though the organizers will place some requests on him.

"We hope he will be open to our part of the world, but it is very difficult for us to foresee the outcomes of the dialogue," said Caviezel. "However, at least we can show him the spirit of dialogue in Davos."

Following Xi's appearance in Davos last year, Liu He, who was elected a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee in October, is heading a delegation at the forum. In his speech scheduled for Wednesday, Liu is expected to touch on Xi's call for a shared future of humanity, globalization and the trends of China's economy.

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