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Promoting Higher-Standard Opening-up: Minister Zhong Shan’s Article on Qizhi

On Issue No.9, 2020 of Qizhi, Zhong Shan, Secretary of the Leading Party Members' Group and Minister of the Ministry of Commerce, published an article titled “Promoting Higher-Standard Opening-Up”. The full text is below:

Promoting Higher-Standard Opening-up

-- Thoroughly Studying and Acting on General Secretary Xi Jinping’s
Important Observations on Opening-Up

Zhong Shan
Secretary of the Leading Party Members' Group and Minister
of the Ministry of Commerce

The third volume of Xi Jinping: The Governance of China crystalizes General Secretary Xi Jinping’s philosophies and policies of governance. It represents the latest achievement in adapting Marxism to the Chinese context, and serves as a guide to action for a new journey towards a modern, socialist country in all respects. We should thoroughly study and act on General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important observations on opening-up, and push for higher-level opening-up in the new era.

Thoroughly studying General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important observations on opening-up

General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important observations on opening-up reflect his outlook on the strategic landscape of the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and his keen understanding of the profound changes unseen in a century. They are derived from traditional wisdom, contemporary explorations, and an insight into global dynamics. They constitute an important part of the Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, setting the fundamental course for opening-up in the new era and offering methodologies to this end.

Bearing Open Development in Mind

Concepts are the precursor of actions. At the fifth plenary session of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), General Secretary Xi Jinping proposed the new concept of “open development” for the first time. Being both domestic and external oriented, this concept, with its strategic significance and leading role, has ushered in a new chapter in China’s historic journey of opening-up.

What history shows is that openness leads to progress while seclusion leaves one behind. General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out that “the prosperity of civilization and human progress will not be possible without enhancing common ground, openness and inclusiveness.” History home and abroad has demonstrated that golden ages come from openness, and hard times strike because of isolation. Openness, inclusion, exchanges and mutual learning are the green house for human progress. thanks to its open and inclusive character, the Chinese civilization is able to sustain its splendor across a longevity of five millennia its open and inclusive character, witnessing every step of human advancement.

What realities reflect is that openness is the way to a country’s development and prosperity. This “key move” has changed China’s trajectory in the contemporary time, saving it from existential threats and leading it ever closer to the center of the world stage. The nascent New China started its exploration of openness amidst blockade of the West; since the reform and opening-up in 1978, we have made opening-up a fundamental national policy, and embarked on a historic turn to all-round opening-up; the accession to the World Trade Organization spoke to the resolve and courage of the CPC to expand openness; since the 18th CPC National Congress, under the strong leadership of the Central Committee of the CPC with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, we have been pursuing opening-up on all fronts. China is making strides in emerging from a big, open country to a major one.

What future promises is that the more developed China becomes, the more open it will be. Just as General Secretary Xi Jinping said, “China’s door of opening-up will not be closed and will only open even wider.” The renewal of a country or a nation demands that it make progress as history progresses, and seek development as the whole world develops. Openness characterizes socialism with Chinese characteristics. It was emphasized at the fourth plenum of the 19th CPC National Congress that China will advance institutional opening-up in rules, regulations, administration and standards.

Building an open world economy

The notion of building an open world economy was first put forward by General Secretary Xi Jinping in 2013 at the G20 Saint Petersburg Summit. Since then, he has re-emphasized this idea on multiple major international occasions. At the second CIIE, he called for joint efforts to build an open world economy through cooperation, with innovation and for mutual benefits, targeting at solving specific problems.

Building an open world economy through cooperation contributes to globalization. “Economic globalization is an irreversible trend of history.” The COVID-19 pandemic spreading across the world this year poses grave challenges to international economic governance. In building an open world economy, we should be committed to “joining hands” with each other instead of “letting go” of each other’s hands, and “tearing down walls”, not to “erect walls”. This way, we can enhance international cooperation and foster positive synergy for a world that is free and open.

Building an open world economy with innovation lends enormous momentum to development. “Innovation-driven development is essential to sustained growth of the world economy.” As a new round of industrial revolution is burgeoning, an open world economy will help connect the innovation, application, and value chains, make the pie of the global market bigger, and break bottlenecks in growth and development.

Building an open world economy for mutual benefits delivers win-win outcomes. “Uneven and insufficient development is a common challenge facing all countries.” Imbalanced development in the world will harm global peace; imbalanced development in a country will lead to turmoil. With an eye on mutual benefits, an open world economy will share the pie fairly, so that fruits of development will serve more countries and their people, and the world will embrace a brighter future.

Jointly building a community with a shared future for mankind

Historic times call for historic perspectives which can only be found in those with great wisdom. At the crossroad of human development, General Secretary Xi Jinping highlighted that “all countries should be committed to seize the future and destiny of humanity.” After the pandemic broke out, General Secretary Xi Jinping stressed the importance to stand for the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind and build a global community of health for all. This community symbolizes the prospects of advancing human civilization, and opening-up, both in China and the world as a whole, is an important pathway leading to it.

A community with a shared future for mankind unifies history and the future. As General Secretary Xi Jinping rightfully put, it is a community where “the destiny and future of each and every nation and country are interlocked.” The outlook of “putting the common good of humanity first”, the philosophy of upholding justice and pursuing shared interests, and the global vision in which countries treasure their own distinct heritages and promote shared prosperity all reflect the Chinese ideal that all countries are of one family and should live in harmony. It is an ideal that best accommodates to the future development of mankind.

A community with a shared future for mankind combines ideas and actions. General Secretary Xi Jinping said that “we Chinese have a saying that honoring a promise carries the weight of gold.” China, on its part, has been actively engaged in reforms of the global governance system, promoted cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative, initiated the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, set up the Silk Road Fund, and held China International Import Expos. As of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have provided and exported medical supplies to more than 200 countries and regions. These are all concrete contributions to a community with a shared future for mankind.

A community with a shared future for mankind connects China with the rest of the world. General Secretary Xi Jinping said that we should “build an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security, and common prosperity.” This goal is in line both with the trend of peace and development in the world and with socialist core values. China shares the same future with the rest of the world. The Asian community with a shared future, community with a shared future in the Asia-Pacific, and a global community of health for all, all proposed by General Secretary Xi Jinping, will serve as bonds connecting the dream of the Chinese people and that of people from around the globe.

China’s Opening-up Endeavor Makes Historic Achievements

Since the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), we have broken new ground and made remarkable achievements in pursuing opening-up on all fronts. It is a vivid example of practicing Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era in the field of opening-up.

China as an Open Major Country Becomes Increasingly Prominent

China adheres to the basic national policy of opening up and continues to make new achievements, improvement and breakthroughs in opening up. Its indicators for economic openness are ranked among the world’s top. China is a major trading nation. China’s foreign trade stood at US$4.6 trillion in 2019, further consolidating its position as the largest trading nation in the world. In the first half of this year, China’s export outperformed major economies with a rising global market share. China is a major destination of foreign investment. The total paid-in foreign investment made in China reached US$138.1 billion in 2019, making China the second largest recipient of FDI globally. China is a major country of outbound investment. In 2019, China’s outbound foreign investment totaled US$117.1 billion, covering nearly 190 countries and regions. China is a major consumer market. China is the world’s second largest consumer market, with total retail sales of consumer goods hitting RMB41 trillion in 2019, up by 8%. With a population of 1.4 billion and more than 400 million middle-incomers, China has huge market potential. China continues to open up wider and wider to the rest of the world, increase its international competitiveness, improve its open environment and expand its international influence.

Opening-up Strategy Delivers Remarkable Results

General Secretary Xi Jinping has laid out a systematic strategy for opening up, proposed a series of major opening-up initiatives and promoted opening up on all fronts. The Belt and Road Initiative brings benefits to countries and peoples. From 2013 to 2019, China’s trade in goods with countries along the routes exceeded US$7.8 trillion and its direct investment in the region topped US$110 billion, vigorously promoting win-win cooperation and common development. Efforts to build the free trade zones and free trade port have paid off. In 2019, 18 pilot free trade zones contributed 14.5 percent to the country’s foreign investment and 12.2 percent to its import and export with less than four-thousandths of China’s land area. As the highest level of openness in the world today, the free trade port under construction with Chinese characteristics speaks to the confidence in China’s path, theories, system and culture and the determination to open up wider still. The China International Import Expo was successfully held. The CIIE is an important decision made by China to pursue a new round of high-level opening-up, a major initiative to still widen market access to the rest of the world and a milestone of high-level opening up for the new era. Going from strength to strength, the CIIE has become an international platform for procurement, investment, people-to-people and cultural exchanges and an open cooperation.

Opening-up Plays an Increasingly Bigger Pacesetting Role

Driving growth and innovation through opening up is an important success formula for China’s development. Opening-up in the new era has played an important role in building a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way. We have promoted high-quality development through opening up. We have given play to the leading role of opening up, mobilize domestic and international markets and resources, and continuously pushed forward the transformation of growth model, structural adjustment and efficiency improvement. For example, in 2019, mechanical and electrical products and high-tech products accounted for 58.4 percent and 29.2 percent of Chinese exports respectively. We have deepened reform on all fronts. Opening-up and reform complement and reinforce each other. For example, we introduced the “pre-establishment national treatment + negative list” foreign investment management system and pushed for the amendment of relevant domestic laws; the innovative outcomes of the pilot free trade zones have driven the reform of relevant fields in China. We have also promoted the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects through opening up. Opening-up has made important contributions to China’s economic and social development. Foreign trade and investment has become an important driving force for economic growth, creating over 200 million jobs directly and indirectly and contributing more than 25 percent to tax revenue. Opening-up has helped the fight against poverty. Poverty alleviation through e-commerce, domestic services, foreign labor, industry and border trade contributes to winning the battle against poverty.

Strive for a Higher-quality Opening-up in the New Era

General Secretary Xi Jinping once emphasized that “China will not stop its effort to pursue higher-quality opening-up”. We should promote opening up on all fronts, shift from “opening up of elements” to “opening up of institutions”, and accelerate the building of a new development paradigm with domestic and international circulations reinforcing each other. To this end, we will work hard in the following three aspects.

Launch New Opening-up and Development Initiatives

In the face of the daunting challenge posed by the pandemic, we should keep the fundamentals of China’s foreign trade and investment stable, gain new advantages in international cooperation and competition with high-quality opening up, and strive to break new ground of high-quality development. We will open up wider still. We will expand market access and make the negative lists of the national and pilot free trade zones shorter. We will reduce import tariffs and enhance import facilitation. We will improve the business environment and conscientiously implement the Foreign Investment Law and supporting regulations, so that foreign investors can feel reassured and grow in China. We will pursue higher-quality opening up. We will work to introduce and implement a series of policies to help enterprise tide over difficulties, such as export tax rebates, foreign trade credit, export credit insurance, and domestic sales of commodities originally produced for export. We will work to optimize the layout on domestic and international markets, foreign trade business entities, foreign trade commodity structure, and trade patterns of foreign trade, and build foreign trade transformation and upgrading bases, trade promotion platforms, and international marketing networks, namely the “five optimizes” and “three builds”. We will work to stabilize and expand the utilization of foreign investment. We will create an opening up platform. We will continue to push forward with a number of key projects under the Belt and Road Initiative, and compile and publish A Bright Shared Future-Stories along the Belt and Road. We will organize and prepare for the third China International Import Expo to expand the import of high-quality products and meet the needs of the people for a better life. We will build up the momentum of opening up. General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out that higher-quality opening up is one of the powerful driving forces for building a new development pattern. We should pay close attention to the implementation and release the domestic demand potential of economic growth with high-quality opening up. We will promote the innovative development of foreign trade, grant greater reform autonomy to the Pilot Free Trade Zone, and implement the Overall Plan for the Construction of Hainan Free Trade Port.

Break New Ground of Opening-up and Cooperation

As China is moving closer to the center of the world stage, we need to make full use of our advantages, actively participate in the transformation of the international economic governance system, improve the external environment and make the most of the strategic opportunity period. We should participate in WTO reform. We will firmly support the multilateral trading system, defend the core values and basic principles of the WTO, promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, and safeguard China’s legitimate interests in the WTO reform. We should build a network of high-standard FTAs. We will promote the signing of RCEP as soon as possible, accelerate the negotiation process of the China-Japan-Korea FTAs, and continuously optimize the layout of the FTA network. We should strengthen bilateral economic and trade cooperation. We will explore the potential of cooperation with various countries and actively develop global partnership. We will resolutely oppose all forms of protectionism, properly deal with economic and trade frictions, and safeguard our fundamental interests.

Build a New System of Opening-up and Security

We should implement the overall national security concept of General Secretary Xi Jinping. The more open we are, the more necessary we take security seriously. We should have a clearer vision about potential dangers. We will pursue opening-up while maintaining independence. We will determine the intensity, pace and depth of opening up based on our own assessment, draw a red line in external negotiations, and hold the bottom line in terms of China's basic political and legal systems and ideological and cultural security. We should prevent and mitigate risks. At present, anti-globalization is on the rise, and the international environment is facing increasing uncertainties and destabilizing factors. We should promote the innovative development of foreign trade, diversify the market, and prevent the risk of fluctuations in the international market. We should stabilize the industrial and supply chains and prevent the risk of reshoring. We should ensure the safety of overseas assets, and prevent the various risks related to the “Belt and Road”. We should enhance the capacity of home-grown innovation and beware of the risks related to stranglehold technologies. We should improve institutional mechanisms. We will improve the foreign investment security review and anti-monopoly review systems. China will promote the promulgation of the export control act and build a modernized export control compliance system. We will improve the early warning system for industrial injury, and safeguarding industrial safety and developmental interests.

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