China is prepared to take the helm of the global economy if Western nations abdicate their leadership role, a top Chinese diplomat said Monday, days after US President Donald Trump pledged in his inaugural address to put “America first.” “If it’s necessary for China to play the role of leader, then China must take on this responsibility,” Zhang Jun, head of the Chinese foreign ministry’s office of international economic affairs, told a small group of foreign reporters in Beijing, The Wall Street Journal reports. Mr. Zhang made the comments following Chinese President Xi Jinping’s trip last week to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he delivered a defense of economic globalization in a speech that likened trade protectionism to “locking oneself in a dark room.” Many who listened to Mr. Xi’s Davos speech saw it as a rebuke to Western politicians like Mr. Trump, who have pushed for a more inward focus.
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