Chinese President Xi Jinping has led the country in its unswerving higher-level opening-up efforts in an increasingly complex world where economic globalization faces headwinds with a threat looming over multilateralism and free trade.
"China has made an important decision to pursue a new round of high-level opening up, a major new initiative to further widen market access to the rest of the world," Xi said in his keynote speech at the first China International Import Expo in 2018.
Two years on, the country has made great progress in exploring new heights of opening up, fostering a world-class business environment and promoting international cooperation, among others.
Institutional opening up
In contrast to the basic opening up of commodity factors and market, China now aims to establish a new round of opening up featuring institutional and systemic openness.
The country has vowed to foster a new development pattern where domestic and foreign markets can boost each other, with the domestic market as the mainstay.
Under this new development model, China will strive to improve the allocation of resources, pursue coordinated regional development, and open up the economy further.
By giving full play to the potential of the domestic market, both domestic and foreign markets can be better connected and utilized to realize robust and sustainable development, Xi told a symposium of entrepreneurs in July, adding that making the domestic market the mainstay does not mean China is developing its economy with its doors closed.
China should create a market-oriented, law-based and international business environment; implement the negative list for market access and foreign investment law; widen market access, and facilitate trade and investment, Xi added.
In pursuit of high-level opening up, China rolled out a master plan in early June on building the southern island province of Hainan into a globally influential free trade port, and subsequently opened three new pilot free trade zones (FTZ) in Beijing, Hunan and Anhui in September, increasing the total number of FTZs to 21.
Speaking at a gathering to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in October, Xi encouraged China's SEZs to advance reform and opening up at a higher starting point and welcomed foreign countries to participate more in the reform, opening up and development of the SEZs.
Closer ties with world
Noting that the international community has concerns over the prospect of economic globalization, Xi said in August that economic connectivity and exchanges remain an objective requirement for world economic development.
He assured that China will provide more extensive market opportunities for other countries.
Meanwhile, China has taken concrete steps for the world to partake in its development.
A series of limits on foreign investment in China's financial market were scraped in April and May, while the negative list for foreign investment has been shortened again to reduce the number of sectors that are off-limits for foreign investors.
Rendering a 0.7-percent year-on-year expansion for the first nine months, China is the first major economy to return to growth following the economic fallout of the COVID-19 epidemic.
The country's foreign trade of goods totaled 23.12 trillion yuan (about 3.45 trillion U.S. dollars) in the first three quarters, up 0.7 percent year on year, reversing declines reported in the first two quarters.
While global foreign direct investment (FDI) is projected to plunge by up to 40 percent in 2020 amid pandemic woes, FDI into the Chinese mainland, in actual use, expanded by 25.1 percent year on year to 99.03 billion yuan in September, the sixth consecutive month of positive FDI growth for the country.
In July, 18 CEOs of the Global CEO Council, which groups 39 multinational companies that are global leaders in their respective industries, wrote a joint letter to Xi, lauding his proposition on creating new opportunities out of crises and opening up new prospects in changing circumstances. They also hailed his resolve to unswervingly promote economic globalization in a manner that will be more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial to all.
The CEOs said their confidence in China and commitment to staying rooted in and serving China have further consolidated.
At a symposium attended by scientists in September, Xi stressed more efforts to integrate into the global innovation network and enhance China's sci-tech innovation capability through open cooperation.
By far, headquarters and research and development centers invested by foreign multinationals in China have exceeded 2,000 and foreign-funded high-tech enterprises account for about a quarter of the country's total, according to data from the Ministry of Commerce.
As a significant means of channeling advanced productive forces into China, expanding opening up has led the foreign direct investment in the high-tech sector to surge by 25.6 percent year on year in 2019.