From Davos to Dalian

September 10, 2007 - by Robin Teow

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, China once again finds itself in international spotlight.

"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 on September 6, 2007.

The three-day meeting, known as the Inaugural Annual Meeting of the New Champions, had 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 were 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 were also touched upon.

In particular, one-fifth of the meeting's topics were 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.

As the curtain of the event was lowered, participants were loaded with hope while voicing suggestions and making appeals.

Thomas L. Friedman, author of the book The World is Flat, observed that China is undergoing a second economic transformation from polluting economy to clean economy, which can be harder than the transformation from planned economy to market economy.

However, he noted that the "green transformation" not only means challenge but also opportunity, and China is likely to become an innovator of low-cost green technologies.

Samuel A. DiPiazza, chief executive officer with PricewaterhouseCoopers, pointed out that China has advantages in its cheap labor force and innovation capability. "Finding the right way, its high-value-added industries can boom like those with lower added values," he said.

Asia Chairman of Morgan Stanley Stephen Roach believed that China is undergoing an unavoidable travail period, after which its service industry shall stride onto a new stage.

While participants were packing their luggage to leave the glitzy glass-walled World Expo Center, Tianjin City about 800 km away began to count down for the next session of Summer Davos.

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