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President Xi Jinping, who hasn’t left China since the coronavirus emerged in early 2020, will be beamed in — just like last year — as perhaps the top headliner of the event.

AP News

The coronavirus pandemic has forced the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting of world leaders, business executives and other heavyweights to go virtual for the second year in a row, but organizers still hope to catapult the world into thinking about the future with a scaled-down online version this week.

The gathering, an online alternative to the event typically held in the Swiss ski town of Davos, will feature speeches by the leaders of countries including China, India, Israel, Japan and Germany as well as panel discussions with business, government and philanthropy figures like Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert who will talk about COVID-19, and Bill Gates and John Kerry, who are expected to discuss climate change.

Organizers still hope their plans for a larger in-person gathering can go ahead this summer. Until then, here are five things to watch at next week’s online event:

CHINA, Xi Jinping LOOM LARGE

President Xi Jinping, who hasn’t left China since the coronavirus emerged in early 2020, will be beamed in — just like last year — as perhaps the top headliner of the event.

He traditionally uses appearances at international gatherings like Davos to appeal for cooperation to fight climate change and the coronavirus and lambast what Beijing sees as U.S. efforts to hold back China’s rise and dominate global governance.

In a speech Monday, Xi could well again tout changes that Beijing says are opening the state-dominated economy and reject complaints that it wants to detach from international trade. His comments reflect the ruling Communist Party’s desire for global influence to match China’s status as the second-largest economy.

Keep an eye out for any mention of self-ruled Taiwan, which China considers part of its territory and has threatened to attack, and claims to the South and East China Seas or parts of the Himalayas, which have kindled tension with its neighbors.

COVID, China, climate: Online Davos event tackles big themes  Associated Press


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