BEIJING, March 9 (Xinhua) — Braving protectionism and pandemic headwinds, China has remained committed to pursuing high-level opening-up, delivering win-win outcomes to a world still stumbling on the path to recovery.
China’s latest government work report, submitted to the national legislature on Saturday, reaffirmed its determination to open its doors wider. It said that the country will continue to facilitate foreign trade, encourage foreign investment, and promote high-quality cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Since a new development philosophy featuring innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared growth was put forward, China has quickened its pace of opening-up, making strategic moves to embrace development opportunities.
In recent years, China has hosted multiple expos for global businesses to gather together and tap into one of the world’s largest markets. Despite COVID-19 disruptions, the country has organized the China International Import Expo, the China International Fair for Trade in Services, and the China International Consumer Products Expo, providing platforms for trade and exchanges.
Global investors have cast a vote of confidence in China by betting bigger. Official data shows that foreign direct investment into the Chinese mainland, in actual use, expanded 20.2 percent year on year to 173.48 billion U.S. dollars in 2021. The reading hit a record high and was a big step forward compared with the 2012 figure of 111.72 billion dollars.
Behind the stunning figure were the country’s relentless efforts to optimize its business environment, open up more sectors for global investors, and establish more pilot free trade zones (FTZs).
In 2020, China ranked 31st among 190 economies in the World Bank’s ease of doing business index, rising from 91st in 2012, according to a white paper titled “China’s Epic Journey from Poverty to Prosperity.”
In addition, the number of items on the national negative list for foreign investors was slashed from 63 on the first list in 2017 to 31 in 2021.
After China began piloting FTZs in Shanghai, the country established 20 more across the country to support foreign investment and facilitate trade.
Another bright spot in China’s opening-up endeavors is the BRI. Aimed at carrying forward the spirit of the Silk Road, the BRI has borne fruitful results as an open platform for cooperation. Last year, trade in goods with countries along the Belt and Road stood at 11.6 trillion yuan (about 1.84 trillion U.S. dollars), and the total number of China-Europe freight train trips reached 15,183, compared with 42 in 2012.
Foreign trade has been an important indicator of the country’s opening-up level. Thanks to favorable trade policies, China’s foreign trade moved up another notch in 2021, exceeding 6 trillion U.S. dollars for the first time.
As proved over recent years, opening-up policies have helped the world’s second-largest economy pen stories of economic successes. Even as uncertainties and challenges loom large across the world, such momentum is not expected to abate.
“We will make full use of international and domestic markets and resources, continue to expand international economic cooperation and trade, and push for in-depth reform and high-quality development by promoting high-standard opening up,” according to this year’s government work report.