World Economy

Here's what CEOs and other leaders are saying at the China Development Forum in Beijing

A view of the skyline of Beijing, China, on December 16, 2017.
Greg Baker | AFP | Getty Images

The following is a roundup of major figures in business, economics and politics who spoke with CNBC at the China Development Forum in Beijing on Sunday.

Tune into CNBC on air Monday and Tuesday for the broadcast of these interviews, and get more details starting Monday at

Douglas Peterson, CEO of S&P Global

"Blunt force instruments" like tariffs won't go as far with China as talks will, said Peterson of financial services firm S&P Global, as the U.S. moves ahead with levies on Chinese imports.

"Clearly there are aspects to access to the Chinese market that people have been frustrated with," Peterson acknowledged in his interview with CNBC. "On the other hand, I don't know if this is really the right approach to have ... the United States coming in unilaterally to put in place tariffs and sanctions on trade."

William Cohen, former US Defense secretary

There are good reasons to be skeptical about a bilateral meeting that's supposed to take place between the U.S. and North Korea, Cohen said.

U.S. President Donald Trump made the surprise decision earlier this month to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by May, although specific details of that meeting have yet to be announced. Cohen maintained that, based on personal experience, he still had reservations over what could possibly follow.

Laurent Guyot, CEO of Thales China

The executive for the French defense giant, which operates in China, said safeguarding the company's technology is important, but the effort is no barrier to his firm's success there.

Guyot reframed the issue to place it outside of the hot-button topic of "technology transfer."

"The new rule of success is to co-develop in China," he said. "It's to generate technology from China together with Chinese partners. In that case, we don't talk about transfer of technology — we talk about building value in China, for China and also for the group."

Vasant Narasimhan, CEO of Novartis

Swiss pharmaceuticals company Novartis will move toward making a decision on the fate of Alcon — its eye care business — in the first half of 2019, Narasimhan reiterated.

"With Alcon ... we look forward to taking a potential action, moving toward a potential decision in the first half of 2019. And that's still the timeline that we will maintain and no change on that," Narasimhan told CNBC.

Takehiko Nakao, president of the Asian Development Bank

There is much that China can do to create more equality in its society, and to let its people enjoy the fruits of its growth and technological development, said Takehiko Nakao.

"To me, my challenge is how to make society more equal? How to make the older population enjoy better life from the fruits of this technological development, growth and also globalization?" he asked.