Chinese leaders have told national lawmakers during the major annual political sessions that the country will open up like never before.
China’s opening door will not close, said President Xi Jinping on Sunday afternoon, vowing the country will keep on opening up on all fronts, and continue to liberalize and facilitate trade and investment.
Xi made the remarks while joining in a panel discussion with lawmakers from Shanghai at the annual session of the National People’s Congress (NPC). Shanghai has been a pioneer of opening up, and is home to China’s first pilot free trade zone.
Delivering a government work report to NPC deputies Sunday morning, Premier Li Keqiang detailed unprecedented opening-up measures to the outside world.
Foreign firms will be able to get listed on China’s stock markets and issue bonds. They will also be allowed to participate in national science and technology projects, Li said.
Foreign firms will be treated the same as domestic firms in license applications, standards setting, and government procurement, and will enjoy the same preferential policies under the Made in China 2025 initiative, a plan to modernize the manufacturing sector.
Significant improvements will be made in the environment for foreign investment. Service industries, manufacturing and mining will be more open to foreign investment.
Local governments can, within the scope of the powers granted them by law, adopt preferential policies to attract foreign investment. China will build 11 high-standard pilot free trade zones, and widely spread practices developed in these zones that are proven to work, according to the report.
China will extend the practice of processing international trade through a single window, which enables cross-border traders to submit regulatory documents at a single location and thus improves efficiency.
The authorities will achieve nationwide integration of customs clearance procedures this year, Li said. “Foreign capital’s participation in China’s national science and technology projects will expedite the commercialization of basic science research achievements,” said Qiu Zilong, a researcher with the Center for Excellence in Brain Science and Intelligence Technology, the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
A catfish effect is expected as foreign capital penetrates China’s development in science and technology, said Wang Jing, head of Newland Technology Group, who is also a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference National Committee.
Globalization and liberalization of trade are the trend of the time, and Chinese enterprises must follow President Xi’s directives in opening up to get an edge in global competition, said Chen Xuyuan, head of Shanghai International Port Group and an NPC deputy.
The latest opening-up initiatives demonstrate China’s confidence and focus, said Zhang Zhao’an, deputy head of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences and an NPC deputy.
China is seen as the anchor of globalization. Experts have taken note of China’s emphasis on opening up, casting the choice as one which benefits China itself as well as the rest of the world.
“Leaning against the anti-globalization headwinds, the Chinese government recently emphasized the need to further open up the economy and attract foreign investment. We think concrete moves in this direction can help China move up the value chain,” wrote Ding Shuang, an economist with Standard Chartered, in a preview of the NPC session.
Earlier this year, President Xi made a passionate speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in which he compared protectionism to “locking oneself in a dark room.”
China’s development is an opportunity for the world. China has not only benefited from economic globalization but also contributed to it.
Rapid growth in China has been a sustained, powerful engine for global economic stability and expansion, said Xi at the time.
China’s door will keep on opening wider, and China will keep working to be the most attractive destination for foreign investment, Premier Li said in his report.