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To overcome challenges, join hands, don't throw punches

Source: Xinhua Updated: 2020-11-05


Photo taken on Nov 2, 2020 shows the exterior view of the National Exhibition and Convention Center (Shanghai), the main venue of the 3rd China International Import Expo (CIIE), in east China's Shanghai. [Xinhua/Ding Ting]

BEIJING -- As the world is grappling with lingering threats of the COVID-19 pandemic and headwinds of unilateralism and protectionism, it is necessary and urgent for all to take courage, actions and responsibilities. Big countries should take the lead.

It is at this special time of profound uncertainties that the third China International Import Expo (CIIE) is convened. Hosting such a trade event during the pandemic signals that China is getting back to normal and its economy is resilient. More importantly, it demonstrates China's sincere desire to turn its market of 1.4 billion people to a market for the world, and to contribute to global economic recovery.

The significance of the CIIE, which runs from Nov. 5 to 10 this year, goes far beyond buying a certain amount of foreign goods and services. As a major platform for international procurements, investment promotion, cultural exchanges and open cooperation, the CIIE is a creative example that shows how China explores more efficient ways to connect domestic and foreign markets and shares factors of production and resources with the world.

As Chinese President Xi Jinping announced Wednesday in his keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the CIIE, China will take a series of new measures to expand mutual opening-up, including leveraging the leading role of pilot free trade zones and free trade ports in steering opening-up, shortening its catalog of technologies prohibited or restricted from import, applying pro-business relief policies in offsetting COVID-19 impact equally to all companies registered in China, strengthening intellectual property rights protection, signing high-standard free trade agreements with more countries, and pursuing bilateral, multilateral and regional cooperation.

These moves, consistent with measures that have been announced in the previous two CIIEs and implemented to full, reaffirm China's commitment to openness, cooperation, and unity for win-win results. They are a strong response to actions by some countries that pursue unilateralism and protectionism which undermine the international order and international rules.

In this age of economic globalization, countries share economic interdependence and intertwined interests like never before. The global pandemic served as a stark reminder that none of the problems confronting humanity can be resolved by one country alone. Time has proved the prescient pertinence of what Xi proposed during last year's expo: We need to "join hands" with each other instead of "letting go" of each other's hands. We need to "tear down walls," not to "erect walls."

Stuck in the zero-sum game mentality, however, some politicians in Western countries ignore the trend of economic globalization. They pursue unilateralism and bullying at the cost of other countries' development interests and multilateral rules. Such actions are no solution to a country's own problems, still less an answer to mankind's common challenges. These politicians' attempt to return to the age of isolation would only be etched to the pages of history as shameful episodes.

Enhancing opening-up is not an empty slogan. It needs all countries to show courage and common belief in shared benefits, shared responsibilities and shared governance to tackle "the worst crisis since the Great Depression" as the International Monetary Fund described.

China is translating its belief and promises into concrete actions. Total import into China is estimated to top 22 trillion U.S. dollars in the coming decade. The items on the national negative list for foreign investment have been cut from 40 to 33. The number of pilot free trade zones has increased from 18 to 21. China has also been advancing high-quality Belt and Road cooperation.

As the Chinese economy has achieved positive overall growth in the first three quarters, including a 0.7 percent growth in foreign trade and a 5.2 percent rise in paid-in foreign investment, the spillover effect will benefit other regions and participants in the global industrial and supply chains of which China is a big part.

China has vowed to establish a "dual circulation" development pattern, in which domestic and foreign markets complement and reinforce each other, with the domestic market as the mainstay. What China envisions is not a development loop behind closed doors, but more open domestic and international circulation.

When more than 70 percent of the Fortune 500 companies and major players from different industries, including many newcomers, have come to Shanghai for this year's expo, and some of them have already signed up for the event for the next three years, they are casting a vote of confidence to China's development and its capability to fulfill opening-up promises.

The CIIE this year will be remembered by history, not only because of how large its scale is or how many deals will be signed, but also because it demonstrates the spirit of humanity to face up to the formidable challenges in this difficult time and the courage to stride forward together for a shared future.