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China and India Join Hands at Davos 2018

Alissa Wang, BRICS Research Group
February 8, 2018

On January 24, 2018, the annual World Economic Forum meeting took place in Davos, Switzerland. The theme was "Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World." Here BRICS members China and India metaphorically joined hands as they delivered a message of support for an open world economy and voiced their firm opposition to protectionism.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi delivered the keynote speech, the first Indian prime minister to attend the meeting in 20 years. He pointed out that "forces of protectionism are raising their heads against globalization" and that "the negative impact of this kind of mindset cannot be considered less dangerous than climate change or terrorism." He affirmed his support for a "cooperative, harmonious, sharing and caring world." Analysts branded Modi as the counterweight to Trump's protectionism.

Chinese president Xi Jinping did not attend the Davos forum this year. He sent Liu He to lead the Chinese delegation. Liu is a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China's Central Committee and is known as China's "economic mastermind." Liu's speech echoes both Xi's speech at last year's Davos meeting, as well as Modi's keynote this year. In the immediate aftermath of China's 19th Party Congress, Liu outlined the blueprint of China's economic policy for the next few years, highlighting that these policies present many new opportunities for development of other countries around the world. The key necessity of China's economic planning is the country's transition from rapid growth to high quality development. As Liu put it, the question will shift from "is there enough" to "is it good enough." In addition, Liu outlined three critical battles that China will fight. The first was to prevent and resolve major risks in the financial system, cooperating with the international community and strengthening global financial stability. The second was to advance more targeted poverty reduction strategies and contribute to the global fight against poverty. The third was to control pollution, through green and low-carbon development, and to honour the Paris Agreement on climate change, while working closely with the international community in this area.

Overall, the two biggest economic powers of the BRICS have jointly affirmed their support for an open and cooperative world economy. As Modi highlighted India's efforts to make the country more open, through abolishing archaic laws and removing red tape, China, following a similar path, committed to further its reform and open up, through further integrating and supporting international trade, multilateralism, easing market access and improving investment conditions. In the context of a "fractured world," the degree of complementarity between the two BRICS economic giants gives rise to a great deal of optimism for the BRICS potential to become the most effective defenders of globalization.

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Alissa Wang
Alissa Wang is the chair of summit studies for the BRICS Research Group, and a research assistant at the G7 Research Group, the G20 Research Group, and the Global Health Diplomacy Program, based at the Munk School of Global Affairs in Trinity College at the University of Toronto. She studied international relations, global health and political science as an undergraduate at the University of Toronto, and is currently pursuing a JD/PhD at the Faculty of Law and Department of Political Science. She is an editor for the reports produced by the G20 Research Group summit studies team, an analyst for the G7 Research Group summit studies team, and works on compliance research. Alissa is interested in Chinese history and politics as well as China's role in global governance. She was a member of the field team at the G7 Elmau Summit in Germany in 2015, the G7 Ise Shima Summit in Japan in 2016, the G20 Hangzhou Summit in China in 2016 and the G20 Hamburg Summit in Germany in 2017.

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