Reform, opening-up not for expediency
To those who doubt the country’s commitment to economic openness, President Xi Jinping gave his personal assurance that rather than close its doors to the rest of the world, China will open them further, in his Tuesday speech at the Boao Forum for Asia.
Beijing has been consistent in its loyalty to reform and opening-up, the 40-year-old formula of miraculous growth. Yet the rest of the world is anxious for credible evidence that its allegiance to that course was not wavering on encountering headwinds.
What President Xi unveiled in Boao — from greatly loosening market access to creating an investor-friendly domestic market, enhancing intellectual property rights protection and increasing imports — is more than a pleasant surprise, and confirmation that its course remains unchanged. It is a fitting tribute to the 40th anniversary of reform and opening-up, and an all-win prescription for many of the problems between Beijing and its overseas partners.
Despite meaning short-term challenges for some industries at home, they will ultimately emerge stronger in a more open market through fair competition with overseas peers. Overseas consumers and investors, too, will benefit from a more open Chinese economy.
The “measures of landmark significance” the country is to take this year, including broader access for overseas service providers, especially those in the banking, securities and insurance sectors, as well as the loosening of restrictions on foreign ownership in the auto industry, will greatly mitigate concerns about an impending trade war between China and the United States.
As will the moves to increase imports, improve consistency with international trade rules, introduce transparency and facilitate fair competition, and significantly raise the cost of intellectual property rights violations.
And as Xi pointed out, the country will pay equal attention to “bringing in” and going out, with the first international import expo to be held in Shanghai in November being an important policy statement and action demonstrating China’s embracing of greater openness.
Xi made it clear that increasing openness and expanding cooperation is not merely political expediency.
“This is a strategic choice China has made based on its own development needs,” he stated. A choice rooted in the clear understanding that “China’s second revolution”, as he called it, has not only profoundly changed the country but also greatly influenced the whole world.
Openness was the key that unlocked the door to the future 40 years ago, and greater openness is now indispensable for the country’s future progress.