His speech was like one normally expected of an American president. Countries must resist the temptation to retreat into harbour, the world leader said to a packed and admiring audience, but instead have the courage to swim in the vast ocean of the global market.
This was the kind of paean to free trade that might have come from John F Kennedy, George W Bush or Bill Clinton – all occupants of the White House who saw it as the United States’s role to defend the open international trading system set up at the end of the second world war.
This, though, was China’s President, Xi Jinping, in Davos last week, making it clear that he was prepared to fill the vacuum if Donald Trump went ahead with the sort of protectionist policies he had proposed in his election campaign.
Those attending Davos reassured themselves that Trump would ditch all these proposals once he was in office. But if he doesn’t, the consequences are obvious: the world will be plunged into a trade war that will bring the globalisation of the past quarter of a century to a juddering halt.