Borge Brende, the president of the World Economic Forum (WEF), delivers a speech during the closing plenary session in the Congress Hall at the 49th annual meeting of WEF in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 25, 2019. Image: Xinhua

DAVOS (Xinhua) — China’s progress toward eradicating poverty is unprecedented and its effort to promote multilateralism should be embraced by all members of the global community for the sake of common development, the president of the World Economic Forum (WEF) has said.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the WEF, also known as the Davos Forum, which has brought together politicians, business people and representatives from social and cultural circles to find solutions to the world’s problems.

At the heart of the ongoing WEF gathering are Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

“The goals are very ambitious. The overall aim then is to eradicate all extreme poverty by 2030,” on which China has an impressive record, Borge Brende, an experienced Norwegian politician and diplomat, told Xinhua in an interview.

In decades, “we have seen more people lifted out of extreme poverty in China, maybe 800 million people. We have never seen that number of people lifted out of extreme poverty ever before in the history of mankind,” so this is “a great achievement of China,” Brende said.

Brende said although China has been developing very fast, there are still some poor regions in the country, which makes the country’s economic growth more complex. “So China has to continue to grow … the growth now needs to take more care of clean water, clean air. It also has to create jobs further up in the value chain,” Brende said.

“It will be very interesting to follow China moving forward, how it will continue to prosper its population but balancing it with nature and inclusiveness,” he added.

To ensure the world meets the Sustainable Development Goals, Brende said he agreed with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s remarks in Davos three years ago that in face of common challenges, multilateralism and collaboration are the way to go.

“The prerequisite for economic growth, also strongly underlined by President Xi in Davos in 2017, is that we have to continue to trade with each other,” Brende said, adding that “beggar thy neighbor” doesn’t work.

Brende noted “what works is you should prosper thy neighbor, and this is what we have done through globalization, through trading with each other.”

The multilateral system has to renew itself because the world has changed. This year will be the first year ever where Asia accounts for more than 50 percent of the global GDP, he said.

According to the WEF, in 2020, Asia’s GDP will overtake the GDP of the rest of the world combined. By 2030, the region is expected to contribute roughly 60 percent of global growth.

The way forward for the world should be multilateralism and working together, not the so-called “de-coupling” between China and the United States, he stressed.

“Here we hope for no de-coupling … I hope that China and the U.S. can be inspired by the trade deal that was signed in Washington DC last week, and continue to work together. Competing a bit is fine, but also like in sports, you have to collaborate with those that you are competing with in a nice sports spirit.