WEF chairman praises China, talks about 4th industrial revolution

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The founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Klaus Schwab has commended China’s economic development over the past few decades and its commitment to responsive and responsible leadership in global affairs.

Schwab was speaking in an exclusive interview with China Central Television on Monday in Davos, Switzerland, where the WEF’s 2018 meeting would take place on January 23-26.

During the interview, the German-born professor said that as the world has become more fractured than before, the annual convention can create a platform for world business and political leaders to discuss ways to reverse that trend.

“It’s clear that the world is fractured. It’s socially fractured. It’s environmentally fractured. But it’s also politically divided. So what we want to do here is to analyze what are the reasons, but what is much more important (is) to afterwards search for solutions,” he noted.

According to Schwab, the theme of this year’s gathering, “Creating a shared future in a fractured world,” is inspired in part by the notion of building a “community with a shared future for mankind” championed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in his keynote speech at last year’s meeting.

“I’m very pleased that President Xi, with his participation last year, which was really historical, showed that China is willing and ready to assume what we called last year a responsive and responsible role in global affairs and we hope that this year, we can live up to the spirit he brought to Davos,” he said.

Schwab also spoke highly of China’s economic achievement since it launched the “reform and opening up” policy in the late 1970s. “Just take the percentage of China in terms of global GDP and compare (1979) to today. It’s just the best proof that opening up, restructuring, reforms are the best ways to bring progress and prosperity to people,” he said.

Talking about the major challenges facing the world today, the WEF’s 79-year-old founder said the fourth industrial revolution, characterized by new technologies fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, is bringing unprecedented changes to the human society.

“I think one of the big challenges which we have is how we master the fourth industrial revolution. It’s changing competitiveness. Now, the fourth industrial revolution of course can have a very negative impact on the labor market. That’s the reason why we have to prepare people to learn new skills, to be able to use all the opportunities also, which the fourth industrial revolution brings,” Schwab remarked.

Some 70 heads of state and government and 38 leaders of international organizations will attend this year’s forum, according to the WEF.

The Chinese economy expanded 6.9 percent year-on-year in 2017, up from 6.7 percent in 2016, with its gross domestic product reaching 82.71 trillion yuan (about 12.24 trillion U.S. dollars), official data showed.