Trump to face mixed welcome at Davos
In Davos this week, participants can experience “a day in the life of a refugee.” Or hear about ways to uphold the Paris climate accord and promote free trade. Or rub elbows with any number of leaders of African countries.
Enter Donald Trump.
The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, is meant – pretentiously perhaps – to be a place for the world’s decision-makers to put their power to good use. The theme this year is “Creating a Shared Future in Fractured World,” an ambition not likely to turn up on the U.S. president’s Twitter feed.
Instead, Trump will bring his zero-sum message of “America First,” and will speak last among the parade of world leaders – from places such as India, France and Canada – who are gathering today through Friday in the Swiss snows.
As with most things Trump, there are stark contrasts between how attendees view his visit. Some are happy and hope for dialogue. Others unabashedly say they wish he would stay away and accuse him of a lack of compassion and vision for the world that are out of place in Davos.
“I find it quite sad he’s coming to the WEF, but I imagine nothing can be done about it,” said Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard, a longtime disciple of the Dalai Lama.
The U.S. government shutdown had cast some doubt on whether Trump might actually come – the wider U.S. delegation’s departure was delayed due to the shutdown. But with Congress moving Monday to reopen the government, the White House said that barring some unforeseen snag, the delegation would travel today and the president later in the week.
While Trump’s visit may seem incongruous or unwelcome in Davos, he will be sticking to one key aspect of the WEF’s ambition in starting the annual forum 47 years ago: business. An array of Cabinet officials is due to tag along, suggesting the U.S. is preparing a big economic and diplomatic push.
Some have suggested it’s ironic that Trump, a self-styled populist despite his penchant for the penthouse, is attending the elite event. Others speculated he could have felt a need to regain the Davos spotlight for the United States a year after Chinese President Xi Jinping stole the show by casting China as a champion of free trade and stability.