China speeds opening-up toward high level
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of global exhibitors at the ongoing China International Import Expo (CIIE) exceeded that of the previous edition -- a vote of confidence for the Chinese market and a message of business opportunities from it.
The annual global import-themed trade fair, the first of its kind worldwide, is an emblem of China's high-level opening-up and concrete practice of maintaining true multilateralism. It has become a major platform for enterprises from either developed, developing, or underdeveloped countries to boost exports to the market with a population of over 1.4 billion.
The fair attracted nearly 3,000 companies from 127 countries and regions this year, including 33 least developed countries. The number of U.S. companies attending this year's CIIE reached a record high compared with their presence at the previous three editions.
In his keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the fourth CIIE on Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed that China will firmly safeguard true multilateralism. It will also firmly share market opportunities with the rest of the world, promote high-standard opening-up, and uphold the common interests of the world.
Chinese have traditionally valued the quality of honesty and integrity in interpersonal relationships and business. China also honors its words with actions, delivering on its commitments to expanding overall opening-up through legislation, policies and measures.
In the past decade, through the establishment of free trade zones and the Hainan free trade port, the relaxation of restrictions on foreign investment, the hosting of the CIIE since 2018 and the first China International Consumer Products Expo in May, as well as the domestic ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, China has accelerated its overall opening-up, bringing real and remarkable benefits to people and enterprises both at home and abroad.
In the first three quarters of 2021, China's imports totaled nearly two trillion U.S. dollars, up 32.6 percent year on year and a record high. According to the latest World Trade Organization (WTO) data, in the first half of the year, China's international market share of imports increased by 0.7 percentage points year on year to 12 percent, contributing 15 percent of the global import increment.
The Belt and Road Initiative, for win-win results amid economic globalization, has also become a popular international public good that enhances connectivity, creates hundreds of thousands of jobs in participating countries and pushes common development.
Since its accession to the WTO 20 years ago, China has been promoting, defending and leading international cooperation. The country itself is a beneficiary of economic globalization, achieving historic progress such as eliminating absolute poverty.
Yet, the downturn trend of global openness deserves close attention. The World Openness Report issued at the CIIE showed an overall decline of the World Openness Index over the past decade, especially the openness of certain developed countries.
Global consensus on opening up needs to be strengthened and widened to pull the global economy out of a sluggish recovery as soon as possible. Collective wisdom and actions are urgently needed to steer economic globalization toward a more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial direction for all to tackle the development deficit worldwide. And the "countercurrents" of protectionism, unilateralism, economic hegemony and bullying, must be firmly rejected.
The global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic has made the concept of a community with a shared future for humanity increasingly recognized. China will continue to firmly advance its opening-up and strive for the common prosperity of humankind. And all nations should stand on the right path of history and jointly build an open world economy for a better future.