SINGAPORE (Jan 21): The rivalry between the US and China is complicating the lives of companies and countries that would prefer to stay on the good side of both superpowers. Those caught in the crossfire range from US airlines, which were threatened last year if they did not indicate on their websites that Taiwan is part of China, to Canada, which ran afoul of the Chinese when it detained a prominent Chinese tech executive at the US’ request.
The tensions are likely to be palpable at the annual World Economic Forum (WEF). In recent years, each country has used Davos to zing the other. In 2017, Chinese President Xi Jinping issued a veiled attack on US President Donald Trump, who had just begun his presidency, saying, “Pursuing protectionism is like locking oneself in a dark room.” In 2018, Trump said, “The United States will no longer turn a blind eye to unfair economic practices.”
US-Chinese trade negotiations may occur on the sidelines in Davos ahead of the March 1 end of a 90-day cease-fire in their trade war. China’s delegation will be led by Vice-President Wang Qishan. His counterpart will be US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Trump was planning to attend but tweeted on Jan 10 that he was staying home because the fight over the wall on the Mexican border had not been settled.