2018 Boao Forum for Asia - blueprint of China's new round of reform and opening up
As the 2018 Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference gets underway in Hainan Province, China's largest special economic zone and frontline of China's Reform and Opening Up policy will once again become the focus of the world's attention. Five years ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed to the world that "China will unswervingly stick to the Reform and Opening Up Policy." On April 10, 2018, he will outline the blueprint for China's new round of reform and opening up to the rest of the world.
Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a discussion with Chinese and international business leaders at the Boao Forum for Asia in April 2013. [Photo: Xinhua]
Conversation in Boao - China will never close its door to the outside world
At the 2013 Boao Forum for Asia, Xi Jinping conducted a conversation with 32 representatives of Chinese and foreign companies.
"We hope the Chinese government will continue expanding its opening up policies, promote reform in its administrative approval system, encourage more foreign investment in areas including agriculture and the green economy," said Zein Abdalla, president of US soft drink giant PepsiCo.
"Our company is now among the most successful resource-oriented businesses in the world, thanks to its iron ore exports to China. We will continue to expand our investment in China and participate more in China's social development," said Andrew Forrest, chairman of Australia's Fortescue Metals Group.
"We suggest that China further promote domestic demand, push forward with the development of the agriculture and service sectors, as well as ensure that more companies become involved with agriculture, rural areas and the rural people," said Xie Guomin, chairman and CEO of Thailand's Chia Tai Group.
Xi Jinping responded, saying China will never close its doors to the outside world.
"Delivering on the two centenary goals and realizing the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation will undoubtedly drive new impetus and vitality into the Chinese economy. Through our hard work, the country's economic growth rate is likely to remain at a high level," said Xi.
"All enterprises registered on the Chinese mainland are important components of the Chinese economy. Our policy concerning foreign investment will remain unchanged, and we will safeguard foreign investors' legal rights and interests in accordance with the law," added the president.
"China will further push the economy to a higher level by enlarging its scale and expanding its area. We firmly oppose protectionism in any form, and we are willing to properly solve trade disputes between us and other countries through consultation, actively pushing for a balanced, win-win, development-oriented multilateral trading system," said Xi.
Chinese President Xi Jinping proposes the "Silk Road Economic Belt" while visiting Kazakhstan in September 2013. [Photo: Xinhua]
Belt and Road - a new layout for a prosperous China and world
In the autumn of 2013, during his visits to Kazakhstan and Indonesia, Xi Jinping proposed a key initiative - the building of the "Silk Road Economic Belt" and the "21st Century Maritime Silk Road" with countries along the routes. The Belt and Road Initiative marks a new stage of China's opening up to the outside world, featuring extensive consultations, joint contributions and shared benefits.
Xi Jinping said the initiative is designed to share China's development opportunities with countries along the routes.
Chinese President Xi Jinping proposes the "21st Century Maritime Silk Road" while visiting Indonesia in October 2013. [Photo: Xinhua]
Experts have agreed that the Belt and Road Initiative is a new platform built by China to seek open economic cooperation and development throughout the world.
China's opening up is meant to build not only China's own backyard garden but a garden shared by all countries. Over the last five years, China has been taking actions to share the results of its development with the rest of the world.
China has signed cooperation agreements with more than 40 countries and international organizations, as well as cooperation agreements on production capacity with over 30 countries. Its total investment into countries along the "Belt and Road" has surpassed 50 billion U.S. dollars. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has provided loans of 1.7 billion U.S. dollars for countries participating in the "Belt and Road." The Silk Road Fund has reached four billion U.S. dollars. Chinese companies have set up 56 economic and trade cooperation zones in more than 20 countries, providing them with nearly 1.1 billion U.S. dollars in taxes, as well as creating 180,000 jobs.
Chinese President Xi Jinping visits the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone in May 2014. [Photo: Xinhua]
Pilot free trade zones - a new sign of China's opening up
The first pilot free trade zone (FTZ) on the Chinese mainland was officially inaugurated in 2013 in Shanghai, the city where the Communist Party of China (CPC) was founded. Shanghai also counts itself among the first batch of Chinese coastal cities to open to the outside world.
Two years later, the Guangdong, Tianjin and Fujian Pilot FTZs were inaugurated simultaneously. In 2017, more pilot FTZs were officially launched in Liaoning, Zhejiang, Henan, Hubei, Sichuan, Shaanxi Provinces and Chongqing Municipality.
Beginning with the establishment of four special economic zones, namely Shenzhen, Xiamen, Zhuhai and Shantou, many parts of China have become new movers to open themselves to the outside world. Since 2013, 11 pilot FTZs at the national level have become important platforms for China to further expand its reform and opening up and integrate itself into economic globalization.
Xi Jinping has suggested that building pilot FTZs is an important measure taken by the CPC Central Committee to push forward reform and opening up under today's conditions.
Over the last five years, the Shanghai Pilot FTZ has been a leader in trying out new models for investment, trade, finance and management. It has explored more than 100 modes which can be referenced and promoted, such as the foreign investment negative list.
As for the third batch of pilot FTZs, which were inaugurated only a year ago, they are now focusing on "combined operations" instead of "single combat," and their business environment has seen significant improvement.
Over the last five years, China's Central Leading Group for Deepening Overall Reform has met nearly 40 times, launching more than 1,500 measures. [Photo: Xinhua]
Reform and opening up - an open secret for China's further development
In 1978, China launched the Reform and Opening Up program during the 3rd Plenary Session of the 11th CPC Central Committee.
In October 2013, China launched a new plan to deepen reforms during the 3rd Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee. Over the course of more than 1,000 days, Xi Jinping chaired 39 meetings of the Central Leading Group for Deepening Overall Reform, and more than 1,500 different measures were launched. Reforms have covered various areas, including economics, politics, culture, society, the environment and Party building, achieving historical, essential and advanced changes.
In March 2018, the Central Leading Group for Deepening Overall Reform was upgraded, becoming the Central Committee for Deepening Overall Reform.
With economic globalization developing rapidly, Xi Jinping noted during an interview with Russian media in Sochi that reform and opening up is essential for China to grasp opportunities and achieve advanced development.
From the top Chinese leader's point of view, there is no previous experience to reference when a country with a population of over 1.3 billion tries to achieve modernization. As such, China has to find its own development path by "wading across the river by feeling for stones on the riverbed," deepening reform and opening up and learning from what works and what doesn't work.
The world is now expecting China to enter a new era at the 2018 Boao Forum for Asia, the first of four major diplomatic events to be held in China this year.