China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone, the first of its kind in the country, has been working as a driving force of deepened reform and opening-up, with the number of innovative ideas and policies duplicated and promoted worldwide as President Xi Jinping called for in 2014.
According to the Shanghai Development and Reform Commission, 116 administrative licensing items, including the reform in the commercial registration system, have been promoted to the 10 other such zones in the country, as well was a number of eligible national-level innovation demonstration zones and national high-tech industrial development zones.
This is in line with a statement that Xi made a visit to the Shanghai zone in March 2014.
He said it is like a large section of a test field. "Good seeds should be sown, carefully grown and protected so that a good harvest can be expected."
The president added, "More importantly, such experiences should be promoted to a wider area."
That is the case, as 37 policies regarding investment reform, such as the filing of foreign investment, have been applied all over the country. Some 34 trade-facilitating policies have been promoted in special customs supervision zones, the Yangtze River Delta region as well as nationwide, one step at a time. Up to 23 innovations in the financial system, including cross-border financing and liberalization of interest rates, have been promoted in the country.
All these are responses to instructions from Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, on the construction of the Shanghai FTZ, which celebrates its fourth anniversary in a week. During the two sessions earlier this year, Xi stressed that Shanghai should work as a pioneer in national reform and innovation by seeking more accomplishments in the Shanghai FTZ.
In the instructions released at the end of last year, Xi required that local authorities find out the weaknesses of the Shanghai zone and build it according to the world's highest standards.
"By making bold attempts and breakthroughs and seeking reform independently, the Shanghai FTZ should come out with more systematic innovation results that can be duplicated and promoted in the country," Xi said.
At the beginning of this year, the State Council released a guideline regarding the deepening reform of the Shanghai zone. According to Zhu Min, deputy director of the Shanghai Development and Reform Commission, local authorities have started the 98 reforms concerning the guideline.
So far, 48,000 companies have been registered in the Shanghai zone since its official launch in late September 2013. Of those, 8,781 are foreign-invested companies, while 274 multinational companies have set up their regional headquarters there.
General Electric set up its Asia Pacific operation center in the Shanghai zone in September 2014. Duan Xiaoying, chief executive officer of GE China said the company has taken part in and benefitted from the zone's policies, which have helped its job recruitment, clearance at customs and product deliveries.