The world is tilting.
By constantly talking about the smog in Beijing, we have forgotten that China continues to weave its web around the world: First commercially, then economically by its international acquisitions and now diplomatically and militarily.
This winter, in the Swiss resort of Davos, it will probably be a consecration, with the confirmed attendance of Chinese President Xi Jinping. This is an event in itself, because it is not that often that heads of states of major powers come to Davos — apart from Bill Clinton, that is.
Consequently, January 2017 will probably become a memorable month: The one that marks the accession to power of a U.S. President who is aiming to take – at least partially – his country off the world stage: The wall with Mexico; quitting the Transpacific Free Trade Agreement; focusing on domestic economic affairs; disengaging from Europe and vague threats about NATO.
Davos could be a major success for the Chinese hyperpresident, and a perfect symbol that powers succeed to one another, invariably for millennia. This is also the end of what has been the guiding principle of Chinese foreign policy for over 35 years – the tao guang yang hui of the father of China’s reforms and opening up, Deng Xiaoping — keep a cool head; keep a low profile; never take leadership, but reach for the sky.
This shift is happening on all fronts: The One Belt One Road initiative; reform of international financial institutions; more assertive stance towards democratic systems; state capitalism; new models of international relations proposed to other countries like in Africa or South America.
China advances on all fronts and no longer hesitates to propose its own models, its own values.
What about Europe? As usual, the quiet and good schoolboy. Almost half of the European Commissioners will be in Davos! However, neither the President of the Commission nor the President of the Council will be there. The delegation will be led by talented, but discreet, Vice-President Frans Timmermans. A few more national leaders will be there, but few headliners. Europe is not sidelined by a lack of resources or policies, but by an absence of a clear vision or a clear compass. By the absence of a powerful voice highlighting that the region’s values are stronger than ever, that it still plays a major role in the world. A European Union and European countries that clearly show the path they want to trace, to their citizens and to the whole world.
Whether we like it or not, the G2 – with China in the offense and the U.S. on the retreat – is a reality.
André Loesekrug-Pietri is Founder and Managing Partner of ACAPITAL investment funds.