Amid crises, China returns to Davos

A Chinese delegation at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, is seeking to assure foreign investors that after three years of pandemic isolation, life is back to normal. Yet the data suggests otherwise: China’s population shrank in 2022 for the first time in 61 years, and economic growth last year slowed to 3 percent, well below the trend of the past decade.
Speaking at the gathering, a senior Chinese official, Liu He, expressed confidence in the Chinese economy. The Covid crisis was “steadying,” he said, and China had passed the peak of infections. He did not mention the 60,000 fatalities linked to the coronavirus since the lockdowns were lifted.


Five years earlier, Xi Jinping, China’s top leader, came to Davos to claim the mantle of global economic leadership in a world upended by the election of Donald Trump in the U.S. and Britain’s vote to leave the E.U. Since then, the U.S. and Europe have united to support Ukraine against Russia, leaving China among Russia’s few allies.
Context: China is not the only country facing a demographic crisis. Many developed countries are aging, and toward the middle of this century, deaths will begin to exceed births worldwide. The shift is already starting to transform societies.


Opinion: China’s population decline creates two major economic challenges, writes Paul Krugman. The state pension system will struggle to handle the unbalanced ratio of older adults to the working population. And the decline may harm China’s overall productivity.