On March 5th, Premier Li Keqiang of China’s State Council presented the “Government Working Report” (hereinafter referred to as the “Report”) at the first meeting of the 13th National People’s Congress. With the aims of dealing with the future challenges and creating a better future for the Chinese people, the “Report” made a complete arrangement for the government’s work in 2018.
This year is the 40th year of China’s reform and opening up. Opening itself to the outside world has brought China to the international stage, transformed itself from a regional big country to global power, and allowed China to play a new role as a builder, promoter, and leader in economic globalization. Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, China has experienced some historic leap, making it more prosperous and stronger. The 40 years of reform and practical experience have taught us that in order to achieve the basic socialist modernization by 2035, China needs further reforms and opening up, especially to form a new pattern of opening up. Xi Jinping’s socialist economic ideology with Chinese characteristics in the new era points out that we must carry forward the spirit of reform and innovation, promote reform of ideological emancipation, and work harder to solidify the powerful forces that comprehensively deepen reform, and achieve new breakthroughs at the new starting point.
The establishment of a comprehensive opening up is completely different from the previous one which can be summarized as gradual, experimental and partial. In the first part of Promoting the Formation of a New Pattern of Openness in 2018, the “Report” proposed that we should promote international cooperation in the Belt and Road initiative. At the “Belt and Road: Forum on International Cooperation”, held in Beijing from May 14th to 15th, 2017, more than 1500 representatives from more than 130 countries and more than 70 international organizations attended the forum, including heads of state and government, experts and scholars. The Belt and Road initiative, proposed by China has received positive responses from many countries around the world. In fact, the initiative has helped China and other countries to form a new platform and new channel that exceed the expectations of China and the world.
The joint building of the Belt and Road initiative has been transformed from a Chinese initiative into a global public product. Initially, China was the main and active promoter and designer of the initiative but now, more countries have joined China to form a global force pushing the initiative forward. Therefore, the “Report” proposes that we must adhere to the principle of joint consultation and building, sharing, and implement the results of the Belt and Road International Cooperation Forum. This is very important for China to promote the formation of a comprehensive and new pattern of opening up, as it helps the participating countries to establish a large channel of international economic and trade cooperation, deepen cooperation with countries along the route, expand international capacity cooperation to form a domestic and foreign linkage and global supply chain. More importantly, this will allow other countries to share the opportunities brought by “Made in China” and “China Services”, and choose their own path of development. The Belt and Road is not just an international and domestic linkage, but also a three-dimensional and comprehensive linkage of sea, land, air, network, and ice (Silk Road on Ice). Therefore, China’s future opening will become a multi-dimensional, high-level, all-directional, and higher-level opening up, which is completely different from the gradual reform and opening up adopted by China 40 years ago.
With regard to the next major direction of China’s reform and opening up, the “Report” also made a detailed description. For example, “fully liberalize the general manufacturing industry, expand the opening up of telecommunications, medical care, education, pensions, and new energy vehicles.” China has made significant progress in opening the general manufacturing industry, however, it needs to further shape the design of the manufacturing industry in order to form a manufacturing development pattern that is based on the global re-distribution. In the aspect of relaxing or even abolishing the restrictions on foreign-capital shares of banking, securities, fund management, futures, financial asset management companies, China will open its financial sector to foreign investors.
With the full integration of the commodity markets and international market, China’s capital market will integrate itself with the global market quickly. Furthermore, China will build a world-class business environment to attract more FDI, because a world-class business environment can be seen as an important soft power of a nation. The “Report” also have very specific measures for international trade. China has already reached a 24-hour customs clearance, however, the “Report” specifically states that “the overall customs clearance time should be further reduced by one third”, because rapid customs clearance will make China’s very competitive and become one of the leaders in fast customs clearance. The “Report” clearly states “to promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, which indicates that China must be an unwavering promoter, pioneer, supporters and leader in facilitating trade liberalization. At the present, the trend of anti-globalization and trade protectionism are on the rise, but China will unwaveringly promote economic globalization and support free trade. It is willing to promote multilateral trade negotiations with relevant parties and finish the negotiations on regional comprehensive economic partnership as soon as possible, so as to speed up the construction of the Asia Pacific Free Trade Area and the East Asian Economic Community.
Singapore is a relatively developed economy in the ten ASEAN countries, an international financial and shipping center and it has fairly advanced experience in social governance. In the future, China needs to draw on Singapore’s practices and experiences, cooperate with Singapore to actively building a common community of shared future for Asia and even the world through deep cooperation, mutual benefit and win-win results.