Since it was established in September 2013, the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone (FTZ), an important measure to deepen China's reform and opening up, has gathered a lot of replicable experience for the country.
The past five years witnessed China's demonstration of its determination to expand reform and opening up, its efforts to safeguard economic globalization, and its bid to promote the liberalization of global investment and trade. Against the headwinds of anti-globalization and trade protectionism, China has won respects from the rest of the world, thanks to its efforts.
The impact of the Shanghai FTZ has manifested itself in three aspects.
First, it has contributed to the deepening of the reform and opening up through measures such as the creation of a negative list that has been subsequently revised, streamlined administration, power delegation, as well as improving regulations and services. To deepen reform and opening up is part of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and the FTZ is a strategic move in this process. Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 2012, it has been an important task for the CPC and the Chinese Government.
In the past four decades, problems that were easy to tackle were resolved through reforms. Now only the toughest challenges remain. To press ahead with reform and opening up, bold steps must be taken.
Second, the pilot FTZ has demonstrated China's determination and efforts to safeguard economic globalization with its pragmatic and liberal trade and investment policy. At a time when some developed countries are supporting anti-globalization and trade protectionism. The international community had fears that China would close its doors. However, Chinese leaders have underscored on various public occasions that instead of closing its doors, China will further open them wider to the outside world.
China's rapid economic growth has been accompanied by its efforts to integrate with the global economy. With economic globalization shadowed by protectionism and unilateralism, China has shown its firm stance to protect free trade and push forward economic globalization by setting up the Shanghai FTZ.
The diverse policies implemented in the FTZ not only promote the Chinese economy's integration with the world economy, but also help foreign companies to take better advantage of the fast growth of the Chinese economy. These policies have accelerated the integration of market access, investment protection, financial services and intellectual property rights protection with international rules. It's no exaggeration to say that the pilot FTZ epitomizes China's engagement in economic globalization.
Third, the past five years have witnessed the pilot FTZ program extended to 12 places around the country, with their experiences widely shared. After Shanghai, pilot FTZs were established in Guangdong, Tianjin and Fujian in April 2015, in Liaoning, Zhejiang, Henan, Hubei, Chongqing, Sichuan, Shaanxi in August 2016, and in Hainan in April 2018. Today, pilot FTZs are scattered across the country, from north to south, and from coastal areas to the hinterland. With system innovation as its key principle, China's reform and opening up is progressing steadily.
In the new era, the focus of China's economic growth has turned from quantity to quality, and an all-dimensional opening up is inevitable. In order to push the pilot FTZ program to a higher level, the Chinese Government issued a new document on November 23 to further reform and innovate in these zones, granting them more discretion.
Based on the experiences accumulated by the pilot FTZs in the past five years, China is seeking to achieve breakthroughs while furthering reform and opening up, and promoting economic globalization and high-quality economic growth.
Copyedited by Sudeshna Sarkar
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