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Post-Invasion Davos and China’s Unluckiest Generation

The World Economic Forum is an international non-governmental and lobbying organisation based in Switzerland. The foundation, which is funded mainly by its 1,000 member companies – typically global enterprises with more than five billion USD in turnover – as well as public subsidies, views its own mission as “improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas”. The world’s foremost power brokers always attend its annual meeting in Davos, a Swiss mountain resort town. The meeting brings together some 3,000 paying members and selected participants – investors, business leaders, political leaders, economists, celebrities, and journalists – for up to five days to discuss global issues across 500 sessions.

This year, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine urged the business world to cut its ties to Russia. “It is necessary to set a precedent so that your brands will not be associated with war crimes”, Zelensky said. Soon after, Starbucks confirmed that it would be exiting Russia forever. Zelensky went on to say that Ukrainian officials were at Davos and could “inform all of you on the prospects for business”. There are signs of Russia’s growing isolation from the West. While Ukrainian representatives were at Davos, no Russian officials were invited this year. And what was once called the Russia House, where guests were served chilled vodka and caviar while they talked business, has been converted by a wealthy Ukrainian businessman into a space called the “Russian War Crimes House.” The key takeaway: Russia is in the process of being cut off from the most powerful economies in the world.

The Unluckiest Generation

Many young Chinese people believe they are the unluckiest generation in modern Chinese history. That is because Beijing has continued to push its infamous Zero COVID policy. Because of the government’s extreme policy, jobs are hard to find, and frequent COVID testing dominates their lives. Lockdowns have left millions unable to work, and foreign companies are becoming less willing to continue investing in the country. And then comes the paradox: the government is imposing more and more restrictions on individual liberty while pushing people to get married and have more children. But because of the limits, young Chinese cannot imagine staying in China for much longer, let alone having children there. After all, how is one supposed to protect their children when pandemic control workers break into apartments to spray disinfectant, kill pets, and require residents to leave the keys in their apartment door locks?

Because of Beijing’s absurd adherence to the Zero COVID policy, which looks more and more ridiculous as the rest of the world returns to normal, experts expect a brain drain to hit the country. Those with the means and the ability to get out of the country will do so. This is startling, since these young people grew up with China as the world’s second-largest economy. But over the last two years, it has become increasingly clear that the government cannot live up to its promises, and the state has different expectations for their lives. A new survey of more than 20,000 people, primarily females between 18 and 31, found that two-thirds don’t want to have children. Much of this is because they feel like they will not have the means to raise them. There will be a record 10 million college graduates in China this year, but many businesses are laying off workers or freezing headcounts to survive the lockdowns and regulatory crackdowns. All signs point to China facing an impending economic disaster.