Traditional thinking won’t work anymore: WEF founder Schwab

The world's second-largest economy cannot be expected to grow at its current breakneck speed, the founder of the World Economic Forum told CNBC as fears over the global reliance on the Chinese economy sent markets on course for their worst-ever start to the year.

As the business and political leaders gather at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, amid a fresh storm of market uncertainty, WEF founder Klaus Schwab points out the difficulty for China to maintain the pace.

"For China to grow seven percent is the equivalent of adding an economy the size of Switzerland or Indonesia every year," he told CNBC Monday.


World Economic Forum (WEF) founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab
FABRICE COFFRINI | AFP | Getty Images
World Economic Forum (WEF) founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab

He said Beijing is not alone in making mis-steps in the quest for growth and stability.

"We are in new territory and I think traditional economic concepts do not work anymore. So we have to test what is necessary in this new global disruptive situation."

Schwab however maintained that China was still a reason to be positive.

"I see a lot of entrepreneurial forces coming up in China. Look at Alibaba. I feel China will use the fourth Industrial revolution in order to boost its economy," he said.




Rise of ISIS and Donald Trump

Representatives from several Middle Eastern countries will be are attending the summit. Schwab expressed hope that the leaders could come together to address the threat of the so-called Islamic State in a neutral setting.

"People today are scared of the stability of the world. What we must try to do is instill trust in to governments and leaderships," he told CNBC.

And he admitted to some concern on language against Muslims from Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump.

"What we are seeing in the world is a king of increased egoism; it is a polarisation of views.

"When you can't cope with change, you feel overwhelmed and you look for a simple solution", he said.

Schwab said Trump and other politicians were guilty of playing on people's fears but he would welcome him at WEF.

"Everybody is welcome, provided he is ready to listen. Davos is a place of dialog; we are not just a platform of unilateral speeches."


World Economic Theme

The theme of the year's forum is the arrival of the "Fourth Industrial Revolution" and to accompany the subject, Schwab has published a book in time for the Swiss conclave.

The book argues that the next industrial transformation is among us and builds upon the arrival of computer technology in the 1960's.

Artificial intelligence, robotics, 3D printing and blockchain are just some of the technologies held up as driving the sea change.


Schwab told CNBC that this would be the year the world will see rapid developments and policymakers may struggle to keep up with technology.

"We need much more agile legislation and rule setting because it is difficult for the political community to cope with the fast technological progress.

"I hope the politicians coming here will absorb the importance of this issue," he said.