Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2018 in Boao, south China's Hainan Province, on April 10 (XINHUA)
China will expand its opening up and continue to advance cooperation with its economic partners in the future, said Chinese President Xi Jinping in his keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference 2018 on April 10.
Addressing more than 2,000 politicians, scholars and leaders in business and media from over 60 countries and regions at the four-day event in south China's tropical Hainan Province, Xi began his speech by reviewing China's successful experience over the past four decades since the adoption of reform and opening up in 1978.
Xi described how the Chinese people have unleashed and enhanced productivity in China through hard work and an unyielding spirit.
"Today, the Chinese people can say with great pride that reform and opening up, China's second revolution if you like, has not only profoundly changed the country but also greatly influenced the whole world," Xi said in the speech.
The Chinese people will continue to increase openness and expand cooperation, Xi declared. A series of major measures will be undertaken to broaden market access, create a more attractive investment environment, strengthen the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) and take the initiative to expand imports.
China will significantly lower the import tariffs for vehicles and reduce import tariffs for some other products this year, Xi revealed in the speech.
A number of measures are also to be launched this year to significantly broaden market access in China and accelerate the opening up of the insurance industry, as well as to ease restrictions on the establishment of foreign financial institutions in China and expand their business scope, while more areas of cooperation between Chinese and foreign financial markets will also be opened.
Instead of primarily relying on favorable policies for foreign investors as in the past, Xi said that instead China will improve the country’s investment environment in order to attract foreign investment.
"We will enhance alignment with international economic and trading rules, increase transparency, strengthen property right protection, uphold the rule of law, encourage competition and oppose monopoly," Xi said.
Meanwhile, China is reinstituting the State Intellectual Property Office this year to step up law enforcement, significantly raise the cost for offenders and deploy relevant laws as a major deterrent.
"We encourage normal technological exchanges and cooperation between Chinese and foreign enterprises, and protect the lawful IPR owned by foreign enterprises in China," Xi said.
Speaking of the first China International Import Expo to be held in Shanghai this November, Xi described the event as not just another expo in an ordinary sense, but a major policy initiative and commitment of China to open up its market.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan pose for a group photo with foreign guests attending the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2018 on April 10 (XINHUA)
Xi’s speech on the role of the reform and opening up in boosting the development of China in the past four decades had resonance for scholars and participants at the BFA annual event.
"China has grown into the world’s second largest economy, the largest industrial producer, the largest trader of goods and the holder of the largest foreign exchange reserves. It could not have reached these heights without the reform and opening-up process. Meanwhile, we have lifted 700 million people out of poverty. All of these achievements are not easy to be attained,"said Gu Xueming, President of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation of China's Ministry of Commerce.
China has achieved remarkable progress by adopting the policy of reform and opening up, which stands as a successful case of developing an open economy. China’s development has also contributed to the overall progress of the world, said Xu Xiujun, a professor with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "An open China will exert a more central role in promoting the regional integration of Asia and the globalization of the world," he said.
Aravind Yelery, Assistant Director of the Delhi-based Institute of Chinese Studies, applauded Xi’s address. Yelery believes that a more open China will bring opportunities to Indian businesses investing in China. "India has been looking for initiatives and opportunities for ways to engage with China, and the policy of opening up further would definitely be good news," Yelery said.
"Xi’s speech shows that China proceeds toward action in a very deliberate and active way," said Allan Gabor, President of Merck China, who has been living in China for 20 years. It is his eighth time at the BFA this year. "For those of us in the business community, the speech provides a lot of transparency and stability. It is very important to us," he added.
Apart from emphasizing China’s will to further open up, Xi also reflected on the achievements of the Belt and Road Initiative in his speech. "The Belt and Road Initiative may be China's idea, but its opportunities and outcomes are going to benefit the world," Xi said, adding that China has no geopolitical ambitions, seeks no exclusionary blocs and imposes no business deals on others.
He also pointed out that as the Belt and Road is a new initiative, it is natural that there might be different views on cooperation. "As long as the involved parties embrace the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, we can definitely enhance cooperation and resolve any differences," Xi said.
"This way, we can make the Belt and Road Initiative the broadest platform for international cooperation, in keeping with the trend of economic globalization and to the greater benefit of all our peoples," Xi said.
Xu Hongcai, a research fellow with the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, echoed Xi’s remarks. "Cooperation is essential to global economic development," said Xu. "The world economy is projected to grow 3.9 percent year on year in 2018, compared to 3.6 percent last year. However, it is still below the average growth rate prior to the 2008 financial crisis."
"The Belt and Road Initiative is important for all the countries that are attached to it," Gabor said. "China is a very important country for the world. The better China does, the better the world does."
"The initiative is one of the instruments to implement the vision of a shared future for mankind," said Giulio De Metrio, Chief Operating Officer of SEA, Italy’s major airport operator. "It is a way of bringing more prosperity to neighboring countries. A good neighbor for China is also a good neighbor for Europe."
(Reporting from Boao, Hainan Province. Hou Weili and Liu Ting also contributed to it.)
Copyedited by Laurence Coulton
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