01/17/2017, 17.14
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Xi Jinping’ s first time in Davos

In the opening address of the World Economic Forum, China’s president defended globalisation and the free market despite China’s own "protectionism" and yuan "manipulation". Police detain at least 32 people demonstrating for a Free Tibet.

Davos (AsiaNews) – Chinese President Xi Jinping today spoke to the World Economic Forum for the first time (pictured 1). In his address, he defended globalisation, slamming protectionism.

Held at a resort in the Swiss Alps, the Forum brings together top business executives and world political leaders to discuss the most pressing issues facing the world.

This year’s edition, the 47th, is set to end on Friday; however, conditions are not very good. The lingering global economic crisis is compounded by growing divisions and populism in Europe and an incoming US administration under President-elect Donald Trump who wants to take care of the US economy first, and save US jobs.

Mr Trump has promised to slap tariffs on products from Mexico and China, accusing the latter of manipulating its currency, the yuan, to give its products an unfair advantage.

Faced with isolationism, protectionism and populism Xi Jinping defended the benefits of globalisation and the free market.

“Those who push for protectionism are shutting themselves inside a dark house. They have escaped the rain and clouds outside, but also missed the sunshine,” Xi said. Any efforts to try to prevent globalisation would not succeed, he added.

Xi also said that the China would not devalue the yuan and will continue to be open to foreign investment.

Despite the problems associated with globalisation, such as uneven development, there was “no point” in blaming it for the 2008 international financial crisis, Xi said.

For some analysts at the forum, who preferred anonymity, Xi’s nice words, are a smoke screen.

For a while, EU foreign ministers have been urging China to remove limits on foreign investment. As for protectionism, Chinese goods benefit from state aid that reduce substantially their price. What is more, the yuan itself was devalued by 7 per cent this year alone, the highest appreciation since 1994.

Xi Jinping arrived in Switzerland on Sunday. In Bern, the Swiss capital, hundreds of Swiss and Tibetans protested outside the country’s parliament with signs and banners calling for a "Free Tibet" and "Don’t deal with killers" (pictured 2).

Swiss authorities had limited the duration of the protest in central Bern to two hours before Xi’s arrival. Scores of protesters refused comply, and 32 were detained.

At noon, police also prevented a man from setting himself on fire. He was treated by medical staff.

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