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Davos provides propaganda opportunity for China

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Today, the rich and powerful who are Davos Men — and they are mostly men — continued their annual meeting in the Swiss Alpine resort. U.S. President Trump may be eating his nightly cheeseburger there: there is a McDonald’s in Davos. He arrived after yesterday’s speech by Liu He 刘鹤, one of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s closest advisors who is sometimes described as the mastermind or “brain” behind China’s economic policy. Like Xi last year, Liu talked up globalization, an implicit criticism of Trump’s nationalist rhetoric — see our SupChina summary.

  • Liu made some striking promises: he said China will clean up its smog problem in three years, get debt under control, and open its economy up to foreign investment and imports in 2018.
  • “It is remarkable how Beijing is using Davos as a propaganda platform to further advance its alternate vision for global governance and enhance the domestic prestige of the ‘leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at the core,’” wrote Bill Bishop in his Sinocism newsletter (paywall).
  • State media articles that show Bill’s point: commentary from from Xinhua News Agency: One year on, Xi’s shared future vision wins wider support, Shared future or America First, and A shared future, a shared view in Davos, which says: “With the United States pulling out of such international commitments, such as the Paris Agreement on climate change, China has won more international recognition for its role for being a responsible country.”
  • “The Chinese for quite a little while have been superb at free-trade rhetoric and even more superb at highly protectionist behavior,” said U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross at Davos, according to Bloomberg.
  • “Chinese at Davos ‘giddy’ about ‘globalism with Chinese characteristics.’ My translation: Illiberal system that encourages trade & investment coupled w/ deep govt intervention to serve industrial policy goals, ensure dom stability & greater intl influence.” Thus tweeted Scott Kennedy of the Center for Strategic & International Studies after reading a Caixin story on China embracing “globalism with Chinese characteristics.”
  • Further reading — in the New York Times: Davos lauds China’s climate efforts even as emissions rise (paywall); from Davos last year by our own Kaiser Kuo: The talk Of Davos about Xi and Trump. Kaiser is at Davos again, so expect another op-ed on the subject soon!

You’re never alone with an update

Yesterday we noted that the world’s first cloned monkeys have been born in China, with more expected to be born soon. They will be used to research human diseases such as cancer. Now the world wonders what it will mean.

  • Humans may be next,says Newsweek.
  • “Yes, they’ve cloned monkeys in China. That doesn’t mean you’re next,” says the New York Times (paywall).

Chinese scientists score a cloning victory with monkeys

Jeremy Goldkorn

Jeremy Goldkorn is co-founder of the Sinica Podcast and currently edits SupChina and its daily newsletter.