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From Davos to Dalian: China Gains Increasing Sway in World Arena
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As the global meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) comes from the Swiss ski resort Davos, where it has been held for decades, to an oriental port city, the world once again casts its eyes to China.


"It has been 36 years since the inception of the forum in 1971. Starting from this year, the forum will hold an annual Summer Davos in China. This shows the world's increasing interest in China's economic development and the growing cooperation between China and the forum," said Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at the opening session of the Dalian meeting.


China's economy, which has maintained rapid growth for almost 30 years, shall keep its momentum, said the premier firmly in his keynote speech. "We need to pursue the right domestic and foreign policies and be able to adapt to change to fully seize these opportunities and make good use of these favorable conditions," he said.


The premier dismissed speculation that China's rise in the world would pose threat to other countries. "As China's development has shown and will continue to show, a prosperous, democratic, harmonious, civilized and modernized China will make even greater contribution to maintaining world peace and promoting human progress," he said.


"China has been one of the world's fastest growing economies for two decades," said Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the WEF. "Many of the new champions are coming from Asia, so Dalian will be a second pillar in the East to complement Davos in the West."


Schwab expressed the belief that the summer meeting will be a success and stay in China for the long run, noting that more and more Chinese growth companies are taking active part in globalization as China emerges as an economic power and wield greater influence in global economy.


James J. Schiro, group chief executive officer and chairman of the group management board of Zurich Financial Services from Switzerland and mentor of the WEF, said at the meeting that he welcomed China's "peaceful rise and Chinese enterprises involved in the global arena."


The three-day meeting, known as the Inaugural Annual Meeting of the New Champions, has drawn nearly 2,000 participants including government officials, scholars and business leaders from 90 countries and regions.


Ten plenary sessions and nearly 80 panel discussions shall be carried out during the meeting, focusing on the roles played by the new generation of fast-growing multinational companies. Other issues like global warming, world economy and combating AIDS will also be touched upon.


In particular, one-fifth of the meeting's topics are about China, including the outlook of China's capital market, consumer market, policy environment, intellectual property right (IPR) protection, areas with growth potentials, service sector, resolution to growth tension, opportunity of the Olympic Games, among others.


According to the forum's Web site, participants in the WEF's annual meeting in January 2007 recognized that a new class of leaders and innovators, the so-called new champions, have emerged and are re-shaping business and transforming society. This Summer Davos is thus served as "a platform for interaction and cooperation between traditional and new actors, between East and West".


"The attention around China is going to stay on for a long time because China is soon to be one of the largest economies, if not the largest, in the world," Lee Howell, Asian department director of the WEF, said in an interview with Xinhua when the curtain was lowered for the 2007 Davos Forum in January.


"By moving from Davos to Dalian, the World Economic Forum underscores an explicit message that China has sent to the world - China, as one of the most influential emerging markets and driving engines of the world economy together with its new champions, is changing and will continue to change the global economic landscape, " said Jiang Jianqing, board chairman of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.


To officials of Dalian, hosting the meeting is an opportunity.


"It will bring the city more chances to open itself up," said Xia Deren, mayor of Dalian. "It can also help local companies emerge as global players."


Li Bozhou, head of the Dalian Council for Promotion of International Trade, saw the Summer Davos a chance to make Dalian better known to the world. "This is a beginning, and more such events shall be held here and some of the participants might come to Dalian again in the future."


When the officials showed their optimism for the city's development, entrepreneurs also saw hope for their businesses.


In the hall of the World Expo Center in Dalian, some 60 domestic and foreign enterprises and cities set up booths for promotion.


"By meeting with young leaders from outside China, I hope I can bring about positive changes to the perceived image of China and the Chinese people," said Feng Jun, CEO of Beijing Huaqi Information Digital Technology Co. Ltd., a high-tech company headquartered in Beijing and manufacturer of products with the Aigo brand. Feng was apparently excited that many people he met at the meeting knew about the Aigo logo.


"It is a good chance for me to exchange ideas with our foreign counterparts," said Xiao Zhiguo, CEO and board chairman of Dalian Luming Science and Technology Group.


Before the event, Xiao spent several days reading materials to get prepared for his speech. He has received an invitation from the WEF for membership. "I would decide after the meeting," he said.


Currently 29 Chinese enterprises, like Lenovo and China Mobile, are among the 1,000-plus members of the World Economic Forum. Schwab expected the number could grow to 100 in one or two years.


Tianjin, another port city in north China about 120 km from Beijing, will be the next host of Summer Davos. Schwab said the third session might go to an inland Chinese city.


(Xinhua News Agency September 7, 2007)


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