Chinadaily / US President Donald Trump gestures during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Jan 26, 2018. [Photo/Agencies] The message US President Donald Trump’s speech at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, carried can be summarized thus: Hey guys, are you so blind that you cannot even notice what a great deal I have done for my country in just one year? Under my presidency, America will be “great again”, and so you should invest your money in the United States to make it happen. After we are done, we will make sure you get some leftovers. The rules we previously laid down are now less advantageous to us. Trust me, I will dismantle them to make sure they are tilted more in the US’ favor, and so your money is safe with us.
For Trump, Davos was a typical American roadshow to attract international investors. For many in the audience, they certainly did not expect something like that from the “most powerful man on Earth” at a global summit. Businesses and investors in general may not care whether America will be “great again”, as many would want more investment in their home countries. What the audience expects to take home from such global forums is some valuable advice on what has gone wrong with the world, and how to fix it.
And those were exactly the issues that President Xi Jinping addressed in his speech in Davos last year.
So who is going to lead the world now? Who should world leaders and businesses listen to? China is still a developing country, albeit the largest one, and it has no ambition to replace the US as the world leader. This is not a job China has ever aspired to do. But the US perceives it differently, and sees China as its chief challenger, and it tends to believe, wrongly so, that Beijing is now revising the world order that Washington built after World War II.
Needless to say, the US is barking up the wrong tree because, as one of the major benefactors of the existing world order, China will be the last country to even want to tinker with it. What Beijing has been trying to do is to add a little to the existing system for the benefit of the vast developing world. This is China’s rationale, from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to the Belt and Road Initiative.
Such pursuits are not targeted at the US, or any particular country for that matter, nor are they in the way of the US becoming “great again”. As Xi rightly said in Davos last year while quoting the founder of the Red Cross Henry Dunant: “Our real enemy is not the neighboring country; it is hunger, poverty, ignorance, superstition and prejudice.”
The US is always welcome to join the Belt and Road Initiative, but we need to point out here that in the battle to overcome our real enemy, there is no room for Trump’s “America First” policy.
The US is the first and only country to pull out of the 2015 Paris climate change accord, which, to say the least, is highly irresponsible, and an unbecoming behavior coming from one of the largest emitters of carbon dioxide. “America First” simply won’t sell in the global market. The developing world has schools and hospitals to build and children to feed, and they should be given the highest priority.
Instead, the world needs to heed Xi’s appeal last year: “We should pursue a well-coordinated and interconnected approach to develop a model of open and win-win cooperation. Today, mankind has become a close-knit community of shared future. Countries have extensive converging interests and are mutually dependent. All countries enjoy the right to development. At the same time, they should view their own interests in a broader context and refrain from pursuing them at the expense of others.”
A community of shared future. This is the future for humanity.
The author is a veteran current affairs commentator.