China’s rise will be on prominent display in Davos this week, with the biggest Chinese delegation in the World Economic Forum’s history. The local Chinese restaurant has been fully booked since early January. The 54 Chinese officials and executives — including the presidents of the country’s sovereign wealth fund and export-import bank — were expected not only to rub shoulders here but also, as one put it bluntly, to “go shopping.”
When the United States was snapping at the heels of the British empire, the global hegemon of the early 20th century, the situation caused plenty of friction, even though both countries spoke the same language, shared similar cultures and were liberal democracies.
China, in contrast, is a Confucian- Communist-capitalist hybrid under the umbrella of a one-party state that has so far resisted giving greater political freedom to a growing middle class. Now its ascendancy is about to set off what many officials and experts see as a backlash on both sides of the Pacific.