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China makes Davos buzz this year

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Bill Radke: The World Economic Forum wound up today in Davos, Switzerland. We wind up our special coverage of the event with one of the big story lines that emerged there in the last week: the powerful presence of China. From Davos, Marketplace’s Stephen Beard filed this report.

Stephen Beard: A fitting symbol for the Forum: pianist Lang Lang plays Chopin. Someone from China beating the West at its own game.

Jeremy Warner of the Daily Telegraph says this year in Davos, the Chinese really overshadowed their Western rivals.

Jeremy Warner: They certainly appear very self-confident. They know where they’re going, they’ve got a plan, they’ve got long-term investment. In marked contrast to the advanced economy policy makers and business leaders here.

There’s always a buzz at Davos, a persistent theme you overhear in the hallways and in the parties. This year, it’s China — how it’s rebounding, while the Americans and the Europeans bicker about banker bonuses and tougher regulation.

Ian Bremmer is boss of the Eurasia Consultancy. He says with the U.S. and Europe in relative decline and China rising, we’re entering a dangerous phase:

Ian Bremmer: It is about economic wellbeing. It’s about national security. And when you have 10 percent growth in China and 10 percent unemployment in the United States, conflict is coming whether or not you want it.

Some of the attendees here say a trade war is likely. Others predict an actual war. But Ken Hersh is an optimist. He’s the boss of a $9.5 billion private equity firm. He says the U.S. and China won’t come to blows.

Ken Hersh: I don’t think the Chinese and the Americans are going to have irreconcilable differences. The Chinese own $2 trillion of the U.S. Treasury. They can’t let the United States go down.

Cold comfort for Americans, but a sign of the interdependence fostered by the World Economic Forum. Klaus Schwab, the lugubrious Swiss professor who founded the Forum four decades ago, wound up this year’s annual meeting on the same theme:

Klaus Schwab: We didn’t solve all the problems in the world, but I think we demonstrated very much that we are a human global community.

In Davos, Switzerland, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

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