“China is here, Mr. Burton.”
That’s my favorite quote from the vastly underrated “Big Trouble in Little China.” (Just because of Kurt Russell’s response: “China is here … you, know I don’t even know what the hell that means.”)
And China is certainly here in Davos—big time and with meaning. It’s here in numbers, here as a topic for hallway chatter and here as an issue at every major plenary session.
“Are things moving West to East?” is becoming as common a question as “What’s the ‘New Normal?’”, “Where do we go from here?”, “Cold, isn’t it?”, and “Are you going to eat that croissant, your highness?”
Last year, Chinese representatives here talked the talk. People’s Bank of China Deputy Governor Zhu Min told me that the country would weather the downturn well and the economy would grow by 7-8 percent. Given the black cloud hovering over Davos at the time, most scoffed at that assertion.
Now, with 8.7-percent growth in the bag, they’ve walked the walk, Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent told CNBC.
“China has proven to the world that actually they can grow without their exports continuing to boom,” Kent said.
And walking the walk definitely boosts the visibility. There was absolute delight on the face of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts founding partner Henry Kravis when he was approached by a delegation from CIC, China’s sovereign wealth fund.
It also means setting your own rules—like some of the Chinese media like to do.
One journalist cornered Lord Mervyn Davies, U.K. minister of trade, investment and small business for an interview. She cut the interview short as soon as he expressed his admiration for China.
She then asked Davies to pose with her for a picture. He obliged, but she had to walk him down the hall so they could be pictured in front of a big, black and white photo of former China Premier Zhu Rongji.