Chen Wenling: Witness, Explorer and Advocate of China’s Reform and Opening up
A harmonious China-US relationship will make the world prosperous
2018 is an extraordinary year for China, the United States and the world. Chen Wenling, Chief Economist of China Center for International Economic Exchanges(CCIEE), and her research team have closely followed the China-US trade war. They participated in a number of China-US dialogues such as the China-US Think Tank Dialogue, the US-China CEO and Former Senior Officials’ Dialogue, and the dialogues with the delegation of US congressmen, the Conference Board, the US journalist delegation, and the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
The exchanges with various sectors of the United States have made Chen Wenling aware that the insufficient understanding and mistrust of China is an important factor affecting the China-US relations. She has written articles and interviewed by the media hundreds of times to guide public opinion. As early as the beginning of 2017, Chen Wenling analyzed the possible trade frictions between China and the United States in an interview.
Chen Wenling believes that the trade war launched by the US against China is a strategic misjudgment of the United States. It will hurt both China and the US if the United States chooses to contain China. The world today has become more interdependent than ever, especially the connection between China and the United States, therefore, fighting the trade war with extreme protectionism has actually cut off the global industrial chain and made both China and the United States more painful.
China and the United States are great countries and they can find a way to live in harmony. China’s cultural heritage can also bring positive thinking to China-US relations. China hopes that developed countries will be more developed, developing countries will develop faster and we can jointly build a common community of shared future for mankind. Historical experience shows that eastern and western civilizations have made progress through exchanges and mutual learning. The US market economy system and political civilization are the outcomes of human civilization, which not only absorbed western civilization but also eastern civilization. China’s reform and opening up has also developed rapidly by learning from the most advanced countries. Instead of containing other countries, we should nurture benign competition among nations to promote peace and progress.
In the research report of “China-US Economic and Trade Relations in the Next Decade”, completed by Chen Wenling and her research team, Chen Wenling made a forecast on the global economic trend in the next 10 years, and concluded that strengthening cooperation will be the best option for the two countries.
A harmonious China-US relationship will make the world prosperous and vice versa. During the meeting with Chen Wenling at CCIEE, Mark Francis Brzezinski, the former US ambassador to Sweden said that China and the United States should seek common ground while reserving difference, and the purpose of the normalization of the China-US relations is to promote long-term development of the bilateral relation. Chen Wenling strongly agrees with him and said that the essence of the China-US relations is: no conflict, no confrontation, respect each other, seek common ground while reserving differences, achieve mutual benefit and win-win results.
40 years’ reform and opening up has reshaped China.
During the 40 years of reform and opening up, China experienced earth-shaking changes. For example, China’s GDP grew from 216.5 billion US dollars to 12.24 trillion; China’s average annual GDP growth rate has reached 9.6%, three times higher than the world average; the total volume of China’s foreign trade rose from 10.9 billion US dollars in 1979 to 4.1 trillion in 2017, making it the world’s largest trader; its foreign investment has reached a total of 1.9 trillion US dollars, the world’s second largest investor.
At the beginning of the reform and opening up, 75% of the products produced in China were agricultural products, but now more than 90% of the national economy is industrial products. Now, China’s per capita GDP is close to 10,000 US dollars, and the per capita income level is 200 times higher than 40 years ago. Chen Wenling especially emphasized China’s achievements in poverty alleviation. 700 million Chinese are no longer live in poverty, accounting for 76% of the global poverty-stricken population, which is a great miracle. The reform and opening up has brought tangible benefits to the Chinese people.
In Chen Wenling’s view, reform and opening up has reshaped China. First of all, reform and opening up have reshaped China’s economic system, enabling China to adopt a universal market economy system, and integrate itself with the world economy and market by following international rules and participating in international competition on an equal footing. Second, reform and opening up have reshaped the way China connects with the rest of the world, changed China from a closed world to an open world. Third, reform and opening up have activated the cultural genes of the Chinese people, and inspired the creativity of individuals and enterprises.
After 40 years of reform and opening up, the Chinese economy has shifted to a transition period, the economy will continue to develop but at a lower speed. Just like other countries, the growth rate will decrease gradually when the economic aggregate is getting bigger and bigger. At present, China’s overall strategy should focus on responding to a new round of international shock, lengthening the period of strategic opportunities, and achieving great rejuvenation.
Participant, witness and advocate of reform and opening up policies.
During the 40 years of reform and opening up, Chen Wenling personally witnessed and experienced China’s transformation. During the 20 years before China’s reform and opening up, Chen Wenling was engaged in circulation research and commercial work. She said that the characteristics of the circulation before the reform and opening up can be summarized as “three fixed”: fixed prices, fixed commercial channels and fixed commercial levels, which was a planned economic system.
Chen Wenling recalled that at that time, as a university student she could receive 250 gram of meat, 500 gram of tofu and 13.5 kilos of grain with a voucher. Now, China has the world’s most active circulation, and the changes in China’s business form have brought great convenience to people’s daily lives.
Chen Wenling has been working in the field of national decision-making consulting services since 1999, including economic research, research on national decision-making and strategies. She used to work for the State Council Research Office and now is working at China Center for International Economic Exchanges.
When working at the research office of the State Council, Chen Wenling participated in the drafting of the Government Work Report for nine consecutive years. At China Center for International Economic Exchanges(CCIEE), Chen Wenling, as the chief economist and deputy director of the CCIEE academic committee, participated in many important researches, such as the Belt and Road, China-US issues, international strategy, macroeconomics, and regional economy. When judgments and analysis are needed for major international issues, Chen Wenling led the team to conduct valuable research and made practical suggestions: such as taking proactive measures to minimize strategic risks, and dealing with international shock by making further reform and opening up.
Among the scholars and policy researchers, Chen Wenling wrote the most internal reference, and many of them received commentaries from Chinese leaders and were translated into practical national strategy and policy.
During the five-year transition period after China joined the WTO in 2001, Chen Wenling was one of the five evaluation experts hired by the Ministry of Commerce of China and participated in the assessment of China’s implementation of WTO policies for five consecutive years.
Chen Wenling said that China submitted a full mark paper to the WTO every year. Before China joined the WTO, Chen Wenling wrote an influential paper with the title of “WTO accession: Ten Changes in the Chinese Market”, analyzing the tremendous changes will be brought by China’s accession to the WTO, which received great attention from China’s national decision-maker.
At the symposium of foreign trade experts organized by the State Council, her report “Accelerating the Transformation of China’s Development Strategy” promoted the transformation and upgrading of China’s foreign trade development mode. Before the APEC meeting was held in China in November 2014, Chen Wenling submitted an important paper to the national leaders, proposing that the establishment of the Asia-Pacific Free Trade Area should be raised at the APEC, which became a reality.
The working experience in high-end think tank has equipped Chen Wenling with a unique way of thinking and enabled her to transform the learning ability, theoretical attainments, writing ability and research into practical recommendations needed by the country. Chen Wenling said that when these recommendations are adopted by the decision-maker and become national strategies, decisions and policies, it can be seen as a great opportunity to serve the country.
Chen Wenling insists that we should not be afraid of pointing out the problems and challenges facing China. For example, China’s economic growth are under great pressures: inflationary pressures, resource and environmental pressures, aging social pressures, and poverty pressure.
Different risks will face China during the further reform and opening up, such as financial risk, the insufficient new momentum during the old-new momentum transformation, and the risk related to international trade competition. Our responsibility is to understand the real problems and solve them.
Looking back on the decades of hard work at think tanks, Chen Wenling said that it is a great pleasure and wonderful experience to work at think tanks. Not long ago, Chen Wenling was awarded the “Leading Person Award of China’s Think Tank Talents” jointly hosted by the Evaluation Research Institute of Chinese Academy of Social Science and the Economic Daily.
China’s think tanks have experienced rapid development and a large number of think tank researchers have devoted themselves to the country, Chen Wenling is very pleased to be one of them.
Chen Wenling said that the great era of national changes has given her the opportunity to become a participant, researcher and contributor of the policies and strategies relating to China’s reform and opening up.