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BRI: A Leading Version of All-Around Opening Up

By Qiu Ping Source: Updated: 2024-03-18

In the new era which began in 2012, China has taken the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as the overarching design for opening up and international cooperation. In doing so, it has created a comprehensive framework for opening up with links running eastward and westward across land and over sea, established new systems for a higher-standard open economy, and built up new strengths in international economic cooperation and competition.

The BRI has helped better coordinate the opening up of coastal and inland regions. As a major move for both opening up and development, the BRI has been seamlessly integrated with major development strategies for Chinese regions, such as the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the Yangtze Economic Belt, and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, facilitating opening up that is more comprehensive and better coordinated. Over the decade, the central and western regions have leveraged their strengths to integrate themselves into the process of Belt and Road development, significantly raising their level of openness and transforming themselves from rearguards to front runners in this process. From 2013 to 2022, the share of foreign trade of the central and western regions increased from 13.5% to 19.2%, while their share of foreign investment rose from 7.8% to 14.7%.

The layout of Chinese trade and investment in traditional and emerging markets has also been improved. The BRI has helped Chinese enterprises consolidate traditional markets while venturing into emerging ones. China has enhanced cooperation with the countries of BRICS, ASEAN, Central and Eastern Europe, Africa, and Latin America, thus improving its global market layout. In 2022, China's trade with ASEAN accounted for 15.5% of its total foreign trade, making ASEAN China's top trading partner for three consecutive years.

China has also advanced institutional opening up. In the past, opening up was largely limited to flows of commodities and production factors. Now however, it is being oriented more toward institutions, covering rules, regulations, management, and standards. In pilot free-trade zones and ports with the right conditions, China has been piloting institutional opening up in line with high international standards. On this basis, China has accelerated comprehensive trials to align with high-standard international economic and trade rules. Over the past decade, the negative list for foreign investment access in pilot free trade zones has been significantly downsized, falling from 190 items to 27, with manufacturing items on these negative lists dropping to zero.

Editor: Jiang Wenyan