When Beijing decided in 1978 to open its doors to the wider world, perhaps few both in and outside the country then had the foresight to envision China's phenomenal economic rise.[Special coverage]
Four decades later saw Chinese President Xi Jinping unveiling a raft of new reform and opening-up measures Tuesday at this year's Boao Forum for Asia annual conference in a hamlet-turned-resort of China's southern island province of Hainan.
At this time of rising protectionism and isolationism across the globe, these landmark policies are good news for all.
Xi's pronouncements have been eagerly awaited. Once these policies are implemented, foreign investors will enjoy greater access to China's markets, like the banking and insurance sectors. At the same time, intellectual property rights would be better protected and tariffs on imported vehicles lowered significantly.
In the first place, these bold new measures inspire confidence in China's continued economic growth. That's because these policies come at a time when the Chinese economy has seen growing dependence on service sectors and is shifting to a quality-based and consumption-driven growth trajectory. As the opening-up package will invite stronger external competition, Chinese enterprises in related industries will be encouraged to make much-needed changes so that they can better prepare themselves for a highly competitive global marketplace. Thus, the Chinese economy will be able to live up to its great potential.
In fact, a key secret ingredient in the magic formula that has catapulted China to the world's second-largest economy is Beijing's readiness to fine-tune existing policies and to formulate new ones based on the needs of particular stages and in a step-by-step manner.
Hainan's own story of development is such an example. At the early stage of China's reform and opening-up, the island was not among the first four special economic zones. It was not even a province back then. Now it has become one of China's many portals to the wider world.
More importantly, the train of the world economy will run faster with a stronger China engine.
China's latest commitment to reform and opening-up, as well as those commitments that came before it, shows the country's determination to contribute to a more open and integrated global economy.
As Xi put it in his Boao speech, "The Chinese people will continue to work together with the rest of the world and make greater contribution to humanity."
For many years, the exuberant Chinese economy has been a sustained driving force of the global economy. China's role as a major motor of the global economy has become even more prominent in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. World Bank data show that China contributed 34 percent of world economic growth from 2012 to 2016, more than that of the United States, the European Union and Japan combined.
Currently, the world's rules-based multilateral trading system is threatened by a protectionist pivot in some of the world's major developed countries. In the face of anti-globalization sentiment, China's most recent commitment to opening up will serve as a shot in the arm for those who seek to join the Asian country in promoting global free trade and economic integration, and has already won wide-ranging endorsement inside and beyond the Boao conference hall.
However, the ultimate goal of boosting economic growth is to deliver the benefits of development to all. It is a key lesson China has learned over the decades. That is why China has worked diligently to reduce poverty inside the country, and proposed the Belt and Road Initiative with the aim of building a community with a shared future for mankind together with the rest of the world.
This year's Boao forum falls under the theme "An Open and Innovative Asia for a World of Greater Prosperity." As globalization is inevitable and irreversible, the only future for all countries and peoples on this planet is a shared one. China, by taking a further step toward openness, has reiterated its commitment to build a better world. It is a collective task that needs the input of other global stakeholders.