Country seen as key to rebuilding international trust

Borge Brende, president of the World Economic Forum, has emphasized the critical role China plays in global economic growth, saying that the world's second-largest economy will continue to foster new sources of sustainable growth due to its investment in research and development and green energy.

"The world needs China's contributions, and China's role is critical because of its size. The United States and China altogether represent almost half of the global economy, so if China doesn't succeed, it will also have big implications for the rest of the world," Brende said in an interview with China Daily during the 54th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Themed "Rebuilding Trust", the meeting is scheduled to run through Friday. Brende highlighted the unique challenges of this year's meeting, which takes place against the backdrop of the most complex geopolitical landscape in decades.

He underscored the need to steer clear of any further escalation in these complexities, stating, "We must avoid a further escalation, as it could adversely affect the revival of economic growth and trade."

Brende, who was Norway's foreign minister before taking up his current post, praised the positive developments stemming from the San Francisco summit between President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden in November.

"The meeting was very positive because there will be competition between the US and China moving forward, but they should also be able to collaborate on important topics like climate change, rules for AI, cybersecurity and reviving global economic growth," Brende said.

China's economic strength, coupled with its significant trade influence, makes its contribution to rebuilding international trust crucial, he said.

"China is the second-largest economy in the world, the biggest exporter, and it contributes 35 percent to overall global growth."

Brende said he remains "very optimistic" about the medium- to long-term prospects for the Chinese economy, and commended China's strategic pivot toward digital trade services and cross-border e-commerce, saying, "China is reallocating resources to sectors that produce higher up in the value chain."

Addressing sustainability concerns, he highlighted China's robust investment in green energy and R&D.

The nation leads global energy transition investment, reaching $546 billion in 2022, nearly half the global total, according to BloombergNEF. China's 2022 R&D expenditure surpassed 3 trillion yuan ($418.2 billion), according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

"One of China's strengths is the annual graduation of 12 million students, including nearly 2 million engineers," Brende said, highlighting the nation's growing impact on the international scientific discourse.

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