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DAVOS

Davos: Japan warns of Asian military buildup

Japan on Wednesday told the world it must stand up to an increasingly assertive China or risk a regional conflict with catastrophic economic consequences.

Davos: Japan warns of Asian military buildup
Japanese PM Shinzo Abe at Davos forum. Photo: Eric Piermont/AFP

In a landmark speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe issued what amounted to an appeal for international support in a potentially explosive dispute with its superpower neighbour over islands in the East China Sea.
   
"We must restrain military expansion in Asia … which otherwise could go 
unchecked," Abe told the annual meeting of global business and political leaders, which Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is due to attend on Friday.
   
"If peace and stability were shaken in Asia, the knock-on effect for the 
entire world would be enormous," Abe added.
   
"The dividend of growth in Asia must not be wasted on military expansion."

   
Although Abe did not explicitly mention China, his speech had been flagged 
up in advance by Japanese officials as an alarm call to an influential audience over what Tokyo sees as bullying by Beijing.
   
The dispute over the uninhabited but potentially mineral-rich islands is 
being played out against a backdrop of Japanese fears that China is seeking to exert control over lifeline shipping lanes around its vast coastline and that the United States' commitment to guarantee Japan's security is waning.
   
Tensions over the islands, which Japan calls Senkaku and China refers to as 
the Diaoyus, have come perilously close to boiling over into armed clashes on several occasions in recent years.
   
They resurfaced last month when Abe visited the Yasukuni shrine, a memorial 
to Japan's war dead which is controversial because a handful of convicted war criminals are among those commemorated.
   
China and South Korea seized on the visit as fresh evidence of Japan's 
perceived failure to sincerely repent for its 20th-century record of military aggression, and the visit has also been criticized as unhelpful by Britain and the United States.
   
Asked about the visit here, Abe said his "praying for the souls of the 
departed" should be regarded as "something quite natural for a leader of any country in the world" while emphasizing he had no intention of hurting Chinese or Korean feelings.
   
Much of Abe's speech was given over to a review of the progress of 
"Abenomics", his bid to end two decades of deflation which he said was on the verge of bearing fruit.
   
Describing Asia as a region of limitless potential and the engine driving 
world economic growth, Abe urged China to join a revitalized Japan in creating systems to prevent disputes from destroying their mutual prosperity.
   
"Trust, not tension, is crucial for peace and prosperity in Asia, and in 
the rest of the world," he said.

"This can only be achieved through dialogue and the rule of law, and not through force or coercion."
   
Japan wants China to agree to share details of its military spending, help 
set up a mechanism for managing crises and establish channels of communication between the two countries' armed forces.  
 

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DAVOS

Switzerland: 2021 Davos summit shifted to Lucerne in May

The World Economic Forum announced Wednesday that its postponed 2021 Davos summit, themed as "The Great Reset" in the coronavirus crisis, will take place in Lucerne, Switzerland from May 18 to 21.

Switzerland: 2021 Davos summit shifted to Lucerne in May
Participants at the World Economic Forum at Davos in 2020. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

The annual gathering of the world's political, economic and business elite traditionally takes place in January against the idyllic snowy backdrop of the Swiss Alpine village of Davos.

But it was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and, charged with remodelling the world economy in the wake of the crisis, will now be held 125 kilometres (75 miles) away in the plush Burgenstock resort overlooking Lake Lucerne.

“The meeting will take place as long as all conditions are in place to guarantee the health and safety of participants and the host community,” WEF spokesman Adrian Monck said in a statement.

“The meeting will focus on the solutions required to address the world's most pressing challenges. “Global leaders will come together to design a common recovery path, to shape 'The Great Reset' in the post-Covid-19 era and rebuild a more cohesive and sustainable society.”

Hybrid format

The WEF announced in June that the 51st edition of its annual meeting would take place in a hybrid format, then in August said it was being delayed for several months to reduce any risks to participants from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Lucerne summit will combine both in-person and virtual elements, with participants linked to a network of around 400 hubs worldwide to incorporate dialogue with the WEF's “young global shapers, to ensure openness and inclusion”, said Monck.

The summit will be preceded during the week of January 25 by digitally-convened high-level “Davos Dialogues”, when global leaders will share their views on the state of the world in 2021.

The novel coronavirus has killed more than 1.04 million people while at least 35.5 million infections have been recorded since the outbreak emerged in China late last year, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP.

The pandemic has also triggered a global economic downturn, though the International Monetary Fund said Tuesday that while it is far from over, it will not be as bad as originally feared thanks to a flood of government spending.

The World Trade Organization said likewise, forecasting a global trade contraction of 9.2 percent this year, rather than its previous “optimistic scenario” prediction of 12.9 percent.

But global trade will then grow by only 7.2 percent next year, rather than the previous 21.3-percent estimate issued in April, the WTO added.

Swiss cases rising

The WEF announcement comes as Switzerland announced Wednesday that daily coronavirus cases had jumped over the 1,000-mark for the first time since April 1, when the peak of the pandemic's initial wave began to recede.

Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset has urged the country to “get a grip” and be more rigorous in applying the basic measures to control the spread of the virus.

The 2020 edition of the WEF summit, hosted in January just as the world was beginning to become aware of the new coronavirus spreading in China, drew more than 50 heads of state and government to Davos.

It focused on themes of sustainability and finding a more inclusive model for capitalism. US President Donald Trump and Swedish teenage eco-warrior Greta Thunberg were among its top speakers.

The WEF said it aims to be back in Davos for 2022.

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