Pragmatism made China what it is
Einar Tangen
04:34

The second session of the 13th National People's Congress concluded on Friday. As one of the most important political events in the country, the Two Sessions has drawn worldwide attention. What are the highlights of this year's Two Sessions, and what signal is the Chinese government sending amid Sino-U.S. trade frictions? Einar Tangen, a current affairs commentator, shared his views. He believes pragmatism and a methodical approach have made China what it is, and this will have a positive influence on future Sino-U.S. relations.

CGTN: What are the highlights of this year's Two Sessions? What impressed you the most?

Tangen: It was the balance between both economic and social goals. Very important in China's development in this idea that it's not being rushed into a deal with the United States, it's simply attending to what it sees as its future.

It's very important for China to have this ability to adjust. It's very pragmatic. And they (lawmakers) demonstrated that through this entire session.

One of the things that really impressed me was that in the past, in 2008/9, during the financial crisis, China adopted the idea of the top-down strategy. They put money into banks, they opened up the liquidity. This time around, they are doing it slightly differently. 

What they did is they wanted to make sure that consumers, small and medium-sized enterprises actually had more money in their pockets. So they had a series of tax cuts, and not only taxes but also VAT. This is a novel approach to making sure that China's economy keeps humming.

China really emphasizes long-term planning. You'll see a tremendous amount of consistency -- poverty, pollution, risk control, anti-corruption. These are all parts of it. This is what very interesting about China.

CGTN: Some believe that China's Foreign Investment Law is a delaying tactic to alleviate Sino-U.S. trade tensions. What's your opinion? If it isn't, then how will it affect China and the world?

Tangen: On Friday, the NPC passed the law, and it was long awaited. In terms of saying exactly what this is, I think people are reading too much into it. The fact is this is not just about a response to the United States. 

What's really happening here is China is trying to open its markets for investment, and this is the main thrust of it. It's not just going to be U.S. money that is attracted to these new sets of policies which promised a much more even playing field for both Chinese and foreign firms. It offers more IR protections and things like that.

And this is something that a lot of people in the West have desired, and something that I think is a priority for a lot of people deciding where they're going to invest.

As I said, you invest where things are predictable, where you know what the outcome is going to be. You don't invest in places where it's all going to be on the basis of a tweet.

CGTN: How do China's pragmatism and methodical approach affect the current Sino-U.S. relations?

Tangen: We're looking at times that could be very tough. Everyone is holding their breath looking exactly at what's going to happen with the U.S.-China trade relationship. It looks like Donald Trump wants to do a deal. It's certainly in his political best interest and it's also in China's economic best interest.

So let's hope that goes forward.

But in terms of the policies that China is pushing at this thing, it's not only aimed at the United States. China is very intent on developing new markets. Belt and Road Initiative, ASEAN… these are all areas which could in the future be fresh markets and, potentially, markets that could replace the impact of losing the U.S.

China's work is very very methodical. Anything that is or want to be tried; they use it as a model. For instance the Shanghai bourse for technology. This will be an experiment.

If it works well, they will expand it. If it needs adjustment, it will be adjusted until they get it to the point where it can be used as what they wanted to.

It's a means of delivering funds to small and medium-sized technology startups that are going to, hopefully in China's purview, be able to create a new future for China.

So that is opposed to the U.S. where policy is announced often by Twitter, where it's very clear that within the president's own cabinet, there are fierce debates about policy, where you have a congress which is opposed to the presidency in one house, and somewhat ambivalent in the other towards his policies.

So when you start looking at these two systems, reliability (and) predictability seem to be tending towards the Chinese side.

Reporter: Wang Naiqian

Creative planning: Wang Naiqian

Videographer: Fu Gaoliang

Animation: Zhang Tao

Video editors: Ge Kai, Gao Yue, Ji Jiahui

Producer: Wei Wei

Supervisor: Zhang Shilei

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