DALIAN, China — Chinese Premier Li Keqiang delivered an address resoundingly touting the benefits of globalization notes during the first day of the World Economic Forum’s “Summer Davos” event in Dalian, China.
During the speech, Li heralded globalization, saying that “it is bringing benefits to all countries,” although he acknowledged that countries may also face challenges along the way.
He also addressed the issue of protectionism, which many say China heavily practices, saying that “free trade is the foundation of economic globalization.”
The world’s second-largest economy has made waves recently with its fast-growing tech sector, marking what experts say is a noticeable shift away from the old image of a copycat China. And it’s a move that China needs — looking toward the new economy driven by the private sector and entrepreneurship.
The country is also now home to 50 unicorns — private companies worth more than $1 billion — according to CB Insights. Some are even expanding globally within their first year of operation, and experts are expecting a wave of Chinese tech IPOs to come soon.
Eyes are on how China continues to position itself on the world stage. In January, President Xi Jinping became the first Chinese leader to give a speech at the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos. His message positioned China as a global connector and leader, and it’s one Beijing has continued to push.
China has timed its move just as the U.S. has appeared to retreat from the international stage, giving Xi an opportunity to fill the gap. For example, China’s “One Belt, One Road” giant trade and diplomatic initiative serves to boost its global influence.
But critics say China, in reality, is far from achieving the image of the global leader that it’s painted for itself because of economic woes, murky markets and human rights abuses at home.