What new breakthroughs does China expect through further reforms?
Updated 17:22, 08-Dec-2021

While the world has been troubled by COVID-19 amid rising protectionism and a weak global recovery, China remains committed to its reform and opening-up policies in a bid to achieve new economic breakthroughs.

"Globally, the coronavirus has wreaked havoc on every aspect of economic and social development. We need to have our eyes on the long run, have determination and stay the course for green, inclusive and sustainable development." China's President Xi Jinping said at the United Nations Summit on Biodiversity held last September.

Reform has been a backbone for China's development of its model of socialism, particularly since the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949.

In 1953, China began a transition period, undertaking basic industrialization and establishing a planned economy to try to get the country's weak economy back on track after decades of wars.

Since then, China has sought to maintain a balance between government planning and market mechanisms. In late 1978, China formally started its reform and opening-up policy, giving more freedom to the market and encouraging the private sector.

The past four decades have been a testament to the success of this policy – China grew from a country that once struggled to feed its people to the world’s second largest economy.

Why China needs further reforms?

After decades of high growth, China changed its focus – not growth for its own sake but quality growth. The country eyes more balanced development with an emphasis on innovation and it has also reiterated its support to build a global community by expanding cooperation with other countries, promoting global connectivity and engaging in global governance.

Instead of continuing setting targets for high-speed growth, China is turning to moderate growth and giving provinces more room to pursue high-quality development that is more efficient, equitable, sustainable and secure.

Moreover, the country is making a greater contribution to the fight against climate change, as it aims to bring carbon emissions to a peak by 2030, and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 with more forceful policies and measures.

One of the lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic is that humanity must pursue a green development path and a green lifestyle, Xi said in a video speech at the general debate of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly on September 22, 2020.

What are the measures?

For the next five years (2021-2025), China's 14th Five-Year Plan outlines a series of measures, such as increasing incomes, boosting employment, building a high-quality education system and upgrading the social security system.

Specifically, in the past several years, China has promoted opening-up with pragmatic policies for a better business environment and continuing international cooperation through many channels.

One field that has attracted much attention is the liberalization of China's capital market, with a policy shift that opens it up to foreigners.

While adhering to the direction of market-oriented, law-based and internationalized development, China has pledged to steadily ease cross-border investment and financing restrictions, pay more attention to deeper institutional and rules alignment, and continue to enhance the predictability and stability of policies.

For example, connectivity programs for exchange-traded funds between China and overseas funds have been established and are being further optimized. The limits on foreign ownership in securities, funds and futures firms were removed last April. Industry giants BlackRock Financial Management and Neuberger Berman Investment Advisers LLC became the first two foreign financial service providers to secure mutual fund qualification in China.

What breakthroughs can be expected? 

In recent years, in addition to opening the domestic market wider for overseas investors, China has been working on the Belt and Road Initiative, which has become the paradigm for a new type of international and regional cooperation.

Through the initiative, China has shared its cutting-edge technologies and development experience, especially in infrastructure construction. The initiative helps other countries to leapfrog their development rather than follow conventional paths.

As of the end of January, 171 countries and international organizations had signed 205 cooperation agreements with China under the initiative.

In the first quarter of this year, China's trade of goods with countries along the Belt  and Road rose 21.4 percent year on year to reach 2.5 trillion yuan ($390 billion), accounting for 29.5 percent of China's total foreign trade.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to drag down the global economy, the initiative has rekindled hope, playing a vital role in assisting the fight against the pandemic outbreak and stabilizing global supply and industrial chains.

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