Impact of China’s 40 years of reform and opening up to itself and the whole world
Four decades ago, China embarked on a grand journey of reform and opening-up. As Chinese President Xi Jinping said, China’s reform and opening-up meet its people’s aspiration for development, innovation and a better life. It also meets the global trend toward development, cooperation and peace. Over the past 40 years, China has not only realized its rapid and sound development, but also made a significant contribution to the noble cause of global peace and development.
Over the last four decades, profound changes have taken place and remarkable achievements have been made in China. From 1978 to 2017, China’s GDP increased to 12 trillion U.S. dollars from 175 billion, with an average annual economic growth of 9.5 percent and the size of China’s economy increased by 35 times. China’s GDP per capita reached 8,640 U.S. dollars from 156 U.S. dollars. The percentage of the China’s GDP in the world economy has risen from 1.8 percent to 15 percent. Both China’s urban per capita disposable income and rural per capita net income increased by over 100 times. Primary medical insurance and old-age insurance have covered 1.35 billion and 900 million of population respectively in 2017. China’s education has leaped from relative backwardness to the upper level of the world. Free compulsory education has been implemented in urban and rural areas. The gross enrollment ratio of secondary and higher education has reached 88.3 percent and 45.7 percent respectively. More than 700 million Chinese have been lifted out of poverty, accounting for over 70 percent of global poverty reduction during that period.
Over the last four decades, China has been a major stabilizer and a driving force for the world economy. With rapid economic growth, China has contributed over 30 percent of global growth in recent years and made significant contribution to mitigating the influence of the Asian financial crisis and the global financial crisis. China is now the largest trading partner of more than 120 countries. Over the past four decades, China’s imports have increased 170-fold, reaching 1.85 trillion U.S. dollars last year, supporting tens of millions of jobs worldwide. Chinese companies have actively invested aboard, which set up 372,000 businesses in 190 countries and regions, with a total investment of 1.36 trillion U.S. dollars.
The Belt and Road initiative (BRI) proposed by China is becoming the most popular international public product. From 2013 to 2017, trade between China and countries along the Belt and Road exceeded 5 trillion U.S. dollars. Chinese investment in these countries topped 70 billion U.S. dollars. Chinese companies have paid 2.2 billion U.S. dollars in tax and fees to host countries, and created 240,000 local jobs. As the largest developing country in attracting foreign investment, China has continuously provided economic dividends to foreign enterprises, which highly promoted the development and growth of foreign enterprises in China.
At present, the transition of China’s economy toward high-quality development is picking up speed, with notably improved stability and sustainability in its growth. China’s GDP expanded 6.8 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2018, and has stabilized between the range of 6.7 to 6.9 percent for 12 consecutive quarters. The nominal growth of average per capita disposable income was 8.7 percent, outpacing the overall economic growth. In the next 15 years, China is expected to import 24 trillion U.S. dollars in goods, attract two trillion U.S. dollars overseas direct investment and invest two trillion U.S. dollars overseas. Outbound tourist trips made by Chinese citizens is expected to exceed two billion. No doubt China will bring greater opportunities to every country in the world while deepening its reform and opening up.
At the same time, China is fully aware of the challenges that have to be dealt with. China has a large population, although it is the world’s second largest economy, but its GDP per capita is still very low, ranking 72nd in the world. China still has nearly 30 million people living under the poverty line. Every year China has to create new jobs for 10 million people. Therefore, China is still the world’s largest developing country and has a long way to go before it realizes the Chinese Dream.
In the past 40 years, China witnessed its leaping development through its reform and opening-up policy, and China’s high-quality development in the future can only be achieved by adhering to the same policy. The fundamental reason of China’s brilliant achievements in the short period of 40 years is that China has found a path of socialism with Chinese characteristic that suits the global trend, the conditions of its own nation and the people through the practice of reform and opening up.
Firstly, China stays committed to people-oriented philosophy of development. Over the past four decades, under the strong leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, the Chinese government concentrates on the fundamental interests of the people to pursue development, and ensures that development is for the people, by the people and sharing the fruits with the people. The reform and opening up wins broad support from Chinese people while it largely improves people’s living standards. Far from being satisfied with adequate food and clothing, Chinese people now have lived fulfilled, happy and safe lives.
Secondly, China always regards reform as strong impetus for development. Over the past four decades, China’s endeavor started from rural areas to cities, from pilot programs to nationwide projects and from economic restructuring to the comprehensively deepening of reform. The Chinese government pushes forward its reform comprehensively in economic, political, judicial and cultural areas, exploring a suitable model for its development. Through these significant reforms, China removed all obstacles, emancipated and developed productive forces. The vitality of development is unleashed to enrich an abundance of social wealth.
Thirdly, China always adheres to its fundamental national policy of opening up. Over the past four decades, the Chinese government has pursued development with the door open to the outside, conducted extensive international cooperation, steadily improved its investment environment, opened its market and endeavored to achieve mutual benefit and win-win results with the whole world to build an open global economy.
Since China’s entry to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, it has comprehensively fulfilled its commitments to the WTO. China has substantively reduced import tariffs and significantly lowered non-tariff barriers. The average tariff level has been reduced from 15.3 percent in 2001 to 9.8 percent in 2017. Meanwhile, China has endowed everyone with the right of foreign trade, opened its services market, continuously reduced restrictions to foreign investment and strengthened protection of intellectual property rights (IPR). China has lived up to its responsibility as a major country.
Fourthly, China firmly follows the path of peaceful development. Over the past four decades, China complies with the trend of the times and holds high the banner of peace, development and cooperation. China believes that all countries, big and small, strong and weak, rich and poor, are equal. China respects the right of the people of all countries to independently choose their own development path and defend international fairness and justice. China stays resolutely against hegemonism, interference in other countries’ internal affairs, trade protectionism and unilateralism. China has always been a strong supporter of the Multilateral Trading Mechanism, maintaining a free global trading system and WTO rules. China will stay as determined as ever to safeguard world peace, contribute to global prosperity and uphold the international order.
Economic globalization is a universal consensus for the international community and an irreversible trend of our times. Currently, anti-globalization, unilateralism and trade protectionism bring some problems and challenges to world development and create uncertainty and instability to the global economy. China has been seeking the resolution of differences through dialogue and consultations with maximum sincerity and patience. On the just-concluded 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, Chinese President Xi Jinping has stressed that to respond to the call of the times, China will remain committed to opening up. It is China’s solemn policy declaration and concrete action. China is committed to working with other countries to build a community with a shared future for mankind.
• Huang Qinguo is ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
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