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China's Xi to skip Davos, deflating hopes for Trump summit

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Chinese President Xi Jinping isn't planning to attend the World Economic Forum in January, according to people familiar with the matter, taking one option for a face-to-face meeting with his US counterpart Donald Trump off the table.

[BEIJING] Chinese President Xi Jinping isn't planning to attend the World Economic Forum in January, according to people familiar with the matter, taking one option for a face-to-face meeting with his US counterpart Donald Trump off the table.

Beijing still plans to send its top trade negotiator Vice Premier Liu He to Washington to sign the phase-one deal in early January, an official said separately, asking not to be identified because the discussions were private. US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has said he expects the 86-page agreement to be signed by Liu and him around that time.

"China and the World Economic Forum have a good cooperative relationship and we value the role of the forum," a media representative at China's foreign ministry said. "China has been sending high-level delegations for many years. We will release the news related to the Chinese delegation's attendance to the 2020 annual meeting in due course."

Davos is scheduled to take place from Jan 21 to Jan 24 in 2020, ending the same day that Chinese New Year celebrations begin. Mr Xi has typically toured the country visiting smaller towns and cities ahead of the holiday, a tradition the country's leaders have kept since the early 1990s to shore up public support.

Mr Trump plans to attend the event in Switzerland next year, four administration officials said earlier. The first and only time Mr Xi attended Davos was in 2017, when he defended global trade and multilateralism just before Mr Trump's inauguration.

The US and China have been fighting a protracted trade war since early 2018, announcing this month that they reached an agreement on the first phase of a deal that would include reducing some of the tariffs levied during the dispute. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC on Thursday that the accord is going through a technical and legal review, and will be released and signed in early January.

BLOOMBERG