Xi Jinping Vows China Reforms, Opening Up

by Ike Obudulu Last updated on April 13th, 2018,

Boao, Hainan Province, China: During a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia annual conference in south China’s Hainan Province on Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping unveiled four new measures to advance reform and opening-up, from expanding market access to foreign capital to increasing imports and lowering tariffs.

Xi Jinping noted that China wants to build a world of openness, inclusiveness and balance, with enduring peace, universal security and common prosperity for all mankind.

China always supports dialogue, cooperation and sustainable development, and firmly upholds international order under the UN Charter, he said, calling on all countries to work together to tackle the problems facing globalization.

The problems facing economic globalization need to be tackled with global measures and the benefits of prosperity should be delivered to all people around the world, Xi said.

President Xi  said China is committed to more opening-up and connectivity.

Xi urged “developed countries to stop imposing restrictions on normal and reasonable trade of high-tech products and relax export controls on such trade with China.”

Economic globalization is irreversible and China’s door to the world will only open wider, he stressed.

Xi pledged China will give more market access to foreign businesses, especially to financial services.

The president unveiled the following four measures China will take to make good on its promise:

First, accelerate the opening-up of the insurance industry, facilitate foreign financial services, and attract foreign capital in manufacturing such as automobiles, ships and aircraft. Second, lower the import tariffs for vehicles and reduce import tariffs for some other products. Third, strengthen protection of intellectual property rights. Fourth, provide friendly environment for foreign investors.

Xi said China will translate these measures into reality very soon.

Boao Forum: President Xi Jinping’s four proposals for further opening up China

Wider market access

• Restrictions to be eased on banking, securities and insurance sectors
• Opening up of insurance sector to be accelerated
• More areas of cooperation between Chinese and foreign financial markets
• Foreign equity restrictions to be eased in certain sectors, particularly automobiles

Strengthened IP protection

• State Intellectual Property Offce to be reorganized
• Greater law enforcement to protect IP
• Technology exchange and cooperation encouraged between Chinese and foreign companies
• IP rights of foreign-funded companies in China to be protected

Improved investment environment

• Enhanced alignment with international regulations
• Greater encouragement of competition, opposition to monopolies
• Establishment of State Administration of Market Supervision and Management
• Revision to foreign investment negative list to be completed first half of 2018

Imports to be expanded

• Lower import tariffs for vehicles and other products
• China International Import Expo to be held in November 2018
• Process of joining WTO Government Procurement Agreement to be accelerated
• Imports of superior products demanded by Chinese people to be increased

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged all countries to support a fair globalization that leaves no one behind. “Global problems need global multilateral solutions,” he stressed.

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said there’s no winner in a trade war, and any such conflict between China and the US would hurt other countries.

Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen said Austria hopes to participate more in China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Openness and connectivity have to be universal, the Austrian president said, noting that the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative is a prominent example of such efforts.

Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte said the Netherlands is an example of a country that benefits greatly from global trade and connectivity. He called on Asian countries to reaffirm a free-trade economic system as opening up and innovation are vital, and to reaffirm support to the World Trade Organization that is achieving open and free trade for the benefit of all.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening-up and the 30th anniversary of Hainan’s founding as a province and special economic zone.

This year’s Boao Forum comes against rising trade tensions between the US and China.

Last month, the US slapped heavy tariffs, 25-percent on steel imports and 10-percent on aluminum imports, triggering international criticism.

China reciprocated by  imposing tariffs on 128 types of US imports, totaling an estimated three billion US dollars, just hours after US President Donald Trump signed a memorandum to impose tariffs on up to 60 billion US dollars worth of imports from China in a bid to rein in Chinese efforts to steal intellectual property from U.S. companies.

Trump said the new tariffs and penalties could total about $60 billion, while his own advisers said the figure would be closer to $50 billion.

The new measures focused on China are separate from the steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports that Trump ordered earlier this month.

The tariffs are being enacted under what’s known as a Section 301 action, which grants the president the ability to correct what are seen as unfair practices among the US’s trade partners. In this case, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said during the signing event, the focus was on the technology sector and the protection of intellectual property rights.
Lighthizer also said that the US would also be filing a World Trade Organization complaint against China.

The US has accused China of distorting global markets by allowing its companies — including state-owned giants — to steal intellectual property from American firms, a charge Beijing denies.

Meanwhile, Japan has notified its intention to join as a third party the U.S. complaint against China over alleged theft of IP (DS542). It is not that common to see such detailed explanations of substantial trade interest at the consultation stage.

China also filed a request for consultations under the World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement framework over the U.S. tariff hike proposals based on the Section 301 investigation against it, the Ministry of Commerce said.

In 1978, China’s late leader Deng Xiaoping proposed the idea of internal reform and opening-up to the outside world during the third plenary session of the 11th Party Congress, vowing to push for economic development in both urban and rural areas.

China’s success in the past four decades, including an average of 9.5 percent annual growth, upgraded key infrastructure and technology as well as long-term stability, has not only changed its relations with the world, but also provided a paradigm for other nations to achieve openness and prosperity.

Experience has shown that economic globalization, a natural sequence of productivity and technological progress, can boost world economic development, promote the flow of commodities and capital, and help protect the common interests of all the countries.

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