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Pushing Opening Up to a Higher Level in the New Era

By Zhong Shan Source: English Edition of Qiushi Journal Updated: 2020-05-25

First, it is the responsibility of major countries in promoting economic globalization. As Xi Jinping has pointed out, "Voices against globalization have laid bare deficiencies in the process of economic globalization that we need to take seriously." Economic globalization is essentially the global extension of the market economy. On the one hand, the expansion of the technological revolution and the market-based distribution of labor has developed productive forces and advanced globalization, while on the other hand, due to a lack of global mechanisms of redistribution, the gap between rich and poor has widened, transformation in the relations of production has lagged behind the development of productive forces, and the superstructure has not adapted to the new economic base, leading to the emergence of nationalist and populist tendencies that hinder globalization. As a result of the surge of neoliberalism in the West in recent years, protectionism, unilateralism, and anti-global sentiment have constantly manifested in new ways. Speaking at the Second China International Import Expo, Xi Jinping said, "Economic globalization represents the trend of history. Like the world's great rivers, the Yangtze, the Nile, the Amazon, and the Danube—they all surge forward in relentless flow, and nothing can stop their mighty movement, not the current of undertows or hidden shoals or rocks beneath the water." He also stated, "We must have a more open mindset and take more open steps, and work together to make the pie of the global market even bigger. We need to strengthen the mechanisms for sharing benefits globally, and explore new ways of international cooperation. The goal is to give more impetus to economic globalization and remove impediments as much as we can. Pushing opening up to a higher level means using our own openness to spur openness throughout the world, allowing more commodities and factors to flow freely, upholding the system of multilateral trade, and maintaining channels for global economic and trade cooperation. We must unite all positive forces and work with others to build an open world economy, thus contributing Chinese momentum and demonstrating to the world that China is a responsible major country.

Second, it is urgently needed to advance reform of the global governance system. As Xi Jinping has pointed out, growing global challenges highlight the need to improve global governance and reform the global governance system. For centuries, the West's dominance of global affairs remained unchanged. However, since the beginning of the 21st century, the world has witnessed rapid rise of emerging economies and developing countries as exemplified by China. The balance of global power has thus begun to shift eastward and southward, while the Western-dominated global governance system is changing in profound ways. Traditional theories of international politics about either land powers or sea powers are essentially about control, focusing on how major powers try to dominate and manipulate regional politics. In contrast, the Belt and Road Initiative introduced by China represents an ambitious application of a new type of theory on international relations that transcends traditional theories of control. At the Second China International Import Expo, Xi Jinping said that China will pursue an inclusive and mutually beneficial vision of development, work with others to uphold the international order underpinned by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and help make economic globalization more open, inclusive, balanced, and beneficial to all. He also said that we should work together to build a world economy featuring open cooperation, innovation, and benefit sharing, strengthen our bonds with each other instead of weakening them, tear down the barriers between us rather than putting up new ones, and stick to the path of consultation and cooperation. Finally, he stressed the importance of increasing support for the least developed countries, and ensuring that the fruits of development benefit more countries and peoples. These statements demonstrate China's desire as a responsible major country to share development opportunities with the world and participate in creating a brighter future. Opening up to a higher level will help us promote the ideal of global governance in which all participate and from which all benefit and the values of peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy, and freedom shared by all humanity, build trust between countries, more effectively express the legitimate demands of developing countries, and push the international order and global governance system in a fairer and more equitable direction.

Third, it is an important pathway toward a global community with a shared future. Xi Jinping has pointed out that "We as humans all live in the same global village, in the same time and space at the confluence of history and reality. More and more we are becoming a community with a shared future in which we all have a little of others within us," that "Of the problems confronting the world economy, none can be resolved by a single country alone," and that, "We must all put the common good of humanity first rather than place one's own interest above the common interest of all." Deep-seated problems in international development are now becoming more pronounced, with humanity facing grave challenges due to lacking governance, trust, peace, and development. No country can address these challenges alone, and no country can afford to retreat into self-isolation. Since the beginning of the 21st century, China and other Asian cultures have become increasingly vibrant, with the notion of a global community with a shared future reflecting Eastern philosophical concepts such as peace amid diversity and helping oneself by helping others, as well as a worldview of cherishing distant friends and seeking harmony among nations. Opening up to a higher level will help deepen our cooperation with other countries, link us more closely together through common interests, and ensure that everyone gets a greater share in development. It will also boost exchange and mutual learning between cultures, and help us build an open, inclusive, clean, and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security, and common prosperity.

III. We must fully grasp the profound significance of opening up to a higher level in the new era.

Entering into the new era, China stands at a historic new starting point in its efforts to open up, and is making steady progress toward the goal of establishing a new pattern of complete openness. Xi Jinping has stressed that China will not slow its pace in opening up to a higher level. There are four main aspects to this effort through which we can understand its meaning and implications.

First, opening up with greater intensity

China will not close its door to the world, but will only become more and more open. At multiple events, including the Davos Forum, the Boao Forum for Asia, the China International Import Expo, and the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, Xi Jinping has announced major measures to make China more open and ease market access restrictions. Through an assessment of our level of development, China has opened up services in more than 120 of the 160 sectors defined by the WTO. In our efforts to push opening up to a higher level, we are putting greater focus on opening our market, continuing to ease entry restrictions on foreign capital, further opening up general manufacturing, emphasizing greater openness in sectors such as finance, telecommunications, healthcare, education, and eldercare, and permitting the establishment of partially or wholly foreign owned enterprises in more sectors. We are also improving our business environment by making it more market oriented, law-based, and internationalized, bolstering fair competition, and stimulating the vitality of the market. Finally, we have moved inland and border regions from the background to the forefront of opening up in an effort to create a new pattern of complete openness.

Second, opening up with greater quality

Xi Jinping has stated that we must keep conducting practical explorations so that we can build a more proficient and purposeful grasp of domestic and international situations and open up to higher quality and higher standards. Our past dividends from opening up, which were mainly based on goods and factors, have been leveraged quite effectively, constantly expanding the size of the open economy and growing our share in the international economy. In the future, we must work to ensure that our efforts at opening up help build institutions for open development, push China toward the medium-high end of the global value chain, and bridge the domestic and international spheres. Opening up to a higher level means laying greater stress on the quality of opening up. We must make the transition from our previous model of opening up based on the flows of goods and factors to a new model based on rules, regimes, regulations, and standards, fully implement the system of pre-establishment national treatment plus a negative list, and form a set of institutions that is linked together with high-standard international regulations. We must build new strengths in foreign trade competition, attract foreign investment, technology and talent simultaneously, enhance our ability to make use of resources globally, and turn China into an economic and trade powerhouse. Lastly, we must make opening up more interconnected by more effectively integrating the domestic and international spheres so that the two can better reinforce each other.


The Phoenix Island International Cruise Terminal in Sanya. The Framework Plan for the China (Hainan) Pilot Free Trade Zone was officially released on October 16, 2018. The plan sets out to raise Hainan's high-end tourism service capacity, and consistently develop cruise line related products. Supported by the cruise industry, Sanya's Phoenix Island has actively built a specialty cruise ship terminal that combines shipping, port, commercial, tourism, and tax-free shopping functions. PHOTO PROVIDED BY THE MINISTRY OF COMMERCE 

Third, making opening up more inclusive

According to ancient Confucian wisdom, "All things are nurtured together and do not cause injury to one another; the various ways are travelled together and are not conflicted." Xi Jinping has emphasized,"China's development belongs to the great cause of human progress. China is prepared to open its arms and embrace other countries, providing them with more opportunities in terms of markets, investment, and growth so that we can achieve shared development." The spectacular success that we have achieved in the 70 years since the founding of the PRC has demonstrated the open and inclusive character of the Chinese civilization, and made China better able to participate in global economic governance. Our efforts to open up to a higher level are reflected in the fact that we have put greater emphasis on openness and inclusiveness. We have upheld a perspective on global governance based on the pursuit of shared growth through discussion and collaboration, actively advocated harmony and complementarity amidst diversity, resolutely opposed protectionism and isolationism, and promoted the liberalization and facilitation of international trade and investment. We have actively participated in reform of systems governing the global economy, pushed the global economic order in a more just and equitable direction, and promoted shared development around the world.

Fourth, making opening up more secure

Xi Jinping has stressed that development is the basis of security, while security is a prerequisite of development. China is now in a crucial stage in its reform and development, and faces a complex and uncertain landscape in terms of security and development. With a clear increase in the number of various risk factors, of which some are predictable while others are not, safeguarding our national security has become a heavy and arduous task. Our efforts to open up to a higher level are reflected in the fact that we have put greater emphasis on security in opening up. We have upheld an integrative approach to national security, and expanded opening up while maintaining our independence and initiative, with the understanding that as we become more open we must also ensure our national and economic security. We must become more mindful about worst-case scenarios, build a deeper awareness of new problems and challenges that we face as we expand opening up, forestall and defuse major risks, and improve systems for keeping the open economy secure.

IV. We must open up to a higher level to ensure that our efforts to strengthen and modernize China progress steadily and into the future.

Building new platforms for open cooperation

As a major proponent of openness on the international stage, China must show that it is willing to take on the task of building an open world economy, create more platforms for cooperation with other countries, and contribute more international public goods. We must push forward joint development of the Belt and Road Initiative, thoroughly implement the outcomes of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, do everything possible to see that opening up measures and economic and trade gains come to fruition, and promote shared development. We must publish a collection of examples of mutually beneficial cooperation through the Belt and Road Initiative, and present China to the world in the best way possible. We must continue to make the China International Import Expo a success through our meticulous work. We must continue to organize world-class expos in line with Xi Jinping's request that such events get "better and better," expand the influence of the Hongqiao International Economic Forum, and implement the outcomes of the Second China International Import Expo. We must create platforms that spur the upgrading of consumption, promote vehicles of high-quality development, expand windows for opening up, expedite the renovation and improvement of pedestrian streets, support flows of industrial products to rural areas and agricultural products to cities, unleash the potential of rural consumption, and speed up the formation of a large and strong domestic market.

Creating new hubs of open innovation

Putting greater emphasis on opening up at the institutional level, we must use institutional innovation to create hubs that serve as models and guides in the opening up process. We must grant pilot free trade zones greater independence, continue encouraging them to make pioneering efforts and breakthroughs, exert their role as testing grounds for reform and opening up, and work hard to establish a system of institutions that is linked up with international trade and investment regulations. We must seriously study the establishment of free trade ports, and work faster to develop and introduce a system of policies and institutions for the Hainan Free Trade Port that highlights China's features, accords with our national conditions, and fits in with the orientation of Hainan's development. We must promote innovation and improvement in national economic and technological development zones, and give full play to the strengths of special economic zones. In our efforts to attract high-end factors and resources and develop an advanced manufacturing sector and modern service sector, we must make constant inquiries and stimulate internal momentum. We must develop border economic cooperation zones, exerting their role as bridgeheads and pacesetters in the Belt and Road Initiative. We must also integrate the opening up of border areas with business-based poverty alleviation, ensuring that more poor people benefit from opening up.

Launching a new stage of openness and mutual benefit

As China moves closer to the center of the world stage, we must actively participate in reform of the global governance system in order to create an external environment favorable to domestic development. We must effectively perform follow-up work related to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, advance negotiations for the China-Japan-South Korea Free Trade Agreement and the EU-China Investment Treaty, and accelerate the development of a network of high-standard free trade zones that is locally-based but internationally-oriented and extends outward through the Belt and Road. We must support the multilateral trading system, actively participate in reform of the World Trade Organization, defend its core values and basic principles, and uphold China's rightful interests in the organization's reform. We must promote an open, inclusive, and mutually beneficial atmosphere of international cooperation, maintain our strategic resolve, and protect this important period of strategic opportunity.

Establishing a new system of open security

The surging tide of economic globalization can bring rapid economic development, but it can also bring hazards and instability. We must refrain from crossing red lines, boost awareness of worst-case scenarios and risks, set clear boundaries in foreign negotiations, defend our basic political system and legal system, and safeguard our ideological and cultural security. We must strengthen ongoing and ex-post supervision, improve national security reviews and antitrust reviews of foreign investments, and prioritize financial security and cybersecurity in order to ensure that our opening up campaign is backed by effective guarantees. We must continue to act in our own best interests and maintain the initiative in opening up, using opening up to become stronger while also increasing our ability to forestall risks. In this way, we will safeguard our national security while opening up to a higher level. 

Zhong Shan is Minister and Secretary of the CPC Leadership Group, Ministry of Commerce.

(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No. 22, 2019)


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