China's opening-up continues
Daryl Guppy


Editor's note: Daryl Guppy is an international financial technical analyst. He has provided weekly Shanghai Index analysis for Chinese mainland media for more than a decade. Guppy appears regularly on CNBC Asia and is known as "The Chart Man." He is a national board member of the Australia China Business Council. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

For the first time in 44 years, moon rock samples came back to earth with the Chang'e-5 lunar mission. In a clear example of China's continued engagement with the world, these were immediately made available for international study. 

This is at a time when the U.S. and others have done their best to isolate China during 2020. Some justify this isolation with the claim that China is looking more inwardly following the pandemic and the decoupling initiated by the U.S. 

The elimination of absolute poverty, often cited as China's shining achievement, is built on the back of the country's opening up and engagement with the world for over more than 40 years. The path to a moderately prosperous society rests firmly on more opening up and China's policy developments in 2020 reflect this commitment. There are three important aspects.  

The first is the opening up of capital market which is designed to integrate China into the global financial economy. The second aspect is support for the global institutions that define international relations. The third aspect is support for new global trade agreements which improve the existing structure of global trade, underpin economic prosperity and progress towards a moderately prosperous society.

In 2020, capital market reform gave foreign investors access to China's $15 trillion bond market. Global pension funds have access to safe government debt that pays more than three percent and that is a challenge to the European and American bond markets. Some describe this as just as important as China's admission to the WTO in 2001.

As foreshadowed in the 14th Five-Year Plan, Chinese investors may soon find it a lot easier to invest in foreign companies. Competition for global capital will be stronger if Washington expands on moves to reduce Chinese borrowers' access to American capital. This opening-up is a competitive threat to other global markets.

The growth of China's capital market has in many ways been accelerated by moves to exclude some Chinese companies from listing in U.S. capital markets.

Despite the challenges of 2020 the Shanghai and Shenzhen Stock Exchanges saw a 82-percent increase in terms of funds raised compared with 2019. The STAR Market contributed 47 percent of the funds raised in the A-share market during the year, establishing the Shanghai Stock Exchange as one of the top three exchanges in terms of total funds raised.

A simulated illustration of Chang'e-5 probe's orbiter-returner's separation from the ascender on the moon orbit, December 6, 2020. /CNSA

A simulated illustration of Chang'e-5 probe's orbiter-returner's separation from the ascender on the moon orbit, December 6, 2020. /CNSA

As one of the largest commodity consumers in the global economy, China has long been at the mercy of price set by foreign commodity exchanges. In previous years China expanded the Shanghai and Dalian Futures Exchanges with commodity contracts covering oil, rubber, cotton and iron ore. In 2020 a copper futures contract was added. The areas covered by commodity futures will expand and provide an alternative price mechanism to that dominated by foreign exchanges. More active pricing is an essential part of China's engagement with the global financial markets.

The development of China's sovereign digital currency – the digital yuan – is a further example of China's opening up as it will provide easier international access to cross border trade settlement. The expansion of capital market engagement belies the idea that China is looking more inwardly in 2020.

Rather than withdraw from global participation, China stepped up engagement, including participation in the COVAC alliance vaccine rollout. The anti-Chinese media sees this as a threat, but it's an engagement welcomed by much of the world. Under President Donald Trump, the United States withdrew from many global organizations doing its best to destroy the WTO and undermining UN agencies like the WHO.

China's approach was the exact opposite. When President Trump crippled the WTO appellate system by refusing to confirm the appointment of new judges, China, along with other countries, established an alternative dispute settlement mechanism to ensure the settlement of trade disputes would continue.

China has not only defended global institutions like the WTO and WHO, it has been actively involved in creating new institutions designed to encourage global engagement and expand trade facilities. The signing of the multilateral RCEP trade agreement underlines China's engagement with the global economy. Participation in these new global agreements is consistent with a desire to open up and provides further evidence that China is not looking inwards and withdrawing from the world.

2020 has seen concerted attempts by some to isolate China from the world but the result has been the exact opposite. Although China has been rebuffed by some Western countries closely allied to the U.S., it has not withdrawn from global engagement and has not resiled from the path of opening up. China will neither be forced to open up as Western powers attempted to make it do in the 19th century, nor will it allow itself to be prevented from opening-up.

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