The Corner

Davos and ‘Responsible’ Leadership

It’s time once again for that annual orgy of self-congratulation and de haut en bas preaching better known as the Davos ‘World Economic Forum’. Donald Trump will not be sending any official representatives (as symbolic gestures go, not the worst), but, even in absentia, he will be a ghost at the feast.

Previewing the event, the Financial Times’ Gideon Rachman writes:

The chosen theme for this year’s forum is “Responsive and responsible leadership”. But the political context for the annual meeting will be set by the inauguration of Mr Trump — which also takes place this week. And Mr Trump is not the average Davos delegate’s idea of a “responsible leader”.

Nope (and it’s not just Davos ‘delegates’ who feel that way).

That said, it is interesting to read this:

In the absence of Mr Trump, the big star of this year’s forum is certain to be Xi Jinping, the president of China. The Chinese leader’s decision to make his first appearance at Davos is intriguing. In the physical and spiritual absence of the new US president, Mr Xi may have decided to audition for the part of a “responsive and responsible leader” of the international economic system.

Mr Xi, who will be the first Chinese president ever to speak at Davos, can probably be counted upon to make reassuring statements about the concerns that are dear to the hearts of the delegates, in particular globalisation and climate change.

When it comes to the (possibly) ‘responsible’ Mr. Xi, other concerns seem not to matter quite so much, such as the Chinese leader’s, well, responsibility for the perpetuation of one-party rule, the regime’s imprisonment of dissenters, the continued clampdowns on free expression, the decades-long occupation of Tibet, the refusal to accept Taiwan’s right of self-determination and, of course, Peking’s dangerous adventurism in the South China Sea.  

But so long as he says the right things about climate change…