Chinese Premier Li Keqiang delivers a government work report at the opening meeting of the first session of the 13th National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, March 5, 2018. (Xinhua/Ju Peng)
China reiterated on Monday its commitment to further opening up and support for economic globalization to facilitate both domestic and global development. [Special coverage]
In a government work report delivered to the first session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC), Premier Li Keqiang said that China promised to open its doors wider to foreign investors and further liberalize and facilitate trade and investment.
"We will strengthen alignment with international business rules, and foster a world-class business environment," he said.
The country will fully open up its general manufacturing sector and expand foreign investment access to sectors like financial services, telecommunications, medical services, education, elderly care, and new-energy vehicles.
Warning that protectionism is "mounting," the premier also voiced China's support for promoting economic globalization and protecting free trade.
"China calls for trade disputes to be settled through discussion as equals, opposes trade protectionism, and will resolutely safeguard its lawful rights," he said, noting that the country is ready to work with all parties to advance multilateral trade negotiations.
China will also actively expand imports this year as it aims to further open up its market, said Li. The country will host the first China International Import Expo this year and lower import tariffs on products including automobiles and some everyday consumer goods.
DOORS OPENING WIDER
The inspiring message in the government work report echoes the Chinese leadership's commitment made at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China last October that "China will not close its door to the world, and it will only become more and more open."
The promise comes as China's reform and opening up policy enters its 40th year in 2018, which is of even greater importance as the Chinese economy has transitioned from a phase of rapid growth to a stage of high-quality development.
Reform and opening up was "a game-changing move in making China what it is today," and "it now remains a game-changing move for us to achieve China's two centenary goals," said the premier.
"Bolder moves of opening-up means fresh opportunities for the rest of the world as the Chinese market is big and continues to generate new demand," said Wang Ruijun, an NPC deputy from south China's Guangdong Province, the frontier of the country's reform and opening-up drive.
Liu He, a senior Chinese official, said at the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this year that China "has to advance reform and open up at a faster pace" to accomplish its development goals.
This is not just empty talk, concrete plans are gradually being turned into action.
A negative list approach to market entry, which states sectors and businesses that are off limits to foreign investment, has been expanded nationwide. Meanwhile, a plan is being forged to build a free trade port in Shanghai.
As mentioned in the government work report, the first China International Import Expo has been slated for Nov. 5 to 10 this year in Shanghai to help more foreign goods enter China with a middle-income population of 400 million, already the world's biggest.
CHARTING THE RIGHT COURSE
The rising trend of trade protectionism is concerning Chinese lawmakers and political advisors as they gather here for the annual legislative and political advisory sessions.