Your Excellencies Heads of International Organizations,
Your Excellencies Heads of Delegations,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good evening! As the fourth China International Import Expo (CIIE) opens today, it gives me great pleasure to meet you online in this cloud meeting. At the outset, I would like to extend, on behalf of the government and people of China and also in my own name, a hearty welcome to our distinguished guests and warm greetings and best wishes to our friends old and new.
China is a firm believer in honoring its words with actions. The measures I announced at the third CIIE for further opening up have mostly been implemented. The negative list for cross-border trade in services at the Hainan Free Trade Port has been introduced; reform and innovation for pilot free trade zones are making steady progress; foreign investment access continues to expand; business environment continues to improve; negotiations on the China-EU Comprehensive Agreement on Investment have been concluded; and China is among the first to have completed domestic ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). China has overcome the impact of COVID-19 to achieve innovative growth in foreign trade. As the only major economy to register positive growth of trade in goods last year, China has made important contributions to keeping global industrial and supply chains stable and boosting world economic recovery.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As we speak, the world is experiencing the combined impacts of major changes and a pandemic both unseen in a century. Unilateralism and protectionism are on the rise, and economic globalization is facing headwinds. Studies show a steady decline of the World Openness Index over the past decade and a weakening of global consensus on opening up, which are causes for great concern. For a boat to sail upstream, it has to forge ahead or be driven backward. We must stay on top of the prevailing trend of economic globalization, and support countries around the world in opening up wider while rejecting unilateralism and protectionism. This is significantly important if we are to take humanity to a better future.
Opening up is the hallmark of contemporary China. This year marks the 20th anniversary of China’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Over the last two decades, China has fully delivered on its accession commitments. Its overall tariff rate has been cut from 15.3 percent to 7.4 percent, lower than the 9.8 percent accession commitment. The central government has reviewed and revised over 2,300 pieces of laws and regulations, and local governments over 190,000 pieces, which all helped to unleash market and social vitality. Since the start of COVID-19, China has provided to the international community some 350 billion masks, over four billion protective suits, over six billion testing kits, and over 1.6 billion doses of vaccines. China has actively promoted international cooperation against the pandemic, and supported waiving intellectual property rights on vaccines for developing countries. These are the concrete actions China has taken to honor commitments and fulfill responsibilities.
Over the last 20 years, China’s economic size has grown from the 6th to the 2nd largest in the world, trade in goods from the 6th to the 1st, and trade in services from the 11th to the 2nd. China has led developing countries in utilized foreign investment, and its outbound direct investment (ODI) has risen from the 26th to the 1st. The past 20 years have witnessed a China deepening reform and pursuing all-round opening up, a China seizing opportunities and rising to challenges, and a China stepping up to its responsibilities and benefiting the whole world.
Since joining the WTO, China has kept opening wider to the world, thus generating a new wave of domestic development while injecting fresh impetus into the world economy.
China’s development and progress since its WTO accession 20 years ago is the result of much hard work and great tenacity of the Chinese people under the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC). It is also the result of China’s proactive steps to strengthen international cooperation and pursue win-win cooperation.
On this occasion, I wish to express my heartfelt thanks to all Chinese and foreign friends from different social sectors for taking part in and witnessing this historic process and for supporting China’s opening up and development endeavor.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Ancient Chinese observed, “One can tell the inside of a thing by observing its outside and see the future development by reviewing the past.” For any country or nation to thrive, it must follow the logic of history and develop in line with the trend of the times. As for China, we will not change our resolve to open wider at a high standard; we will not change our determination to share development opportunities with the rest of the world; and we will not change our commitment to an economic globalization that is more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial for all.
First, China will firmly safeguard true multilateralism. The multilateral trading regime with the WTO at its core is the cornerstone of international trade. Right now, the multilateral trading regime faces challenges. China supports the WTO reform in moving in the right direction. We support the inclusive development of the multilateral trading regime, as well as the legitimate rights and interests of the developing members. China will take an active and open attitude in negotiations on issues such as the digital economy, trade and the environment, industrial subsidies and state-owned enterprises, uphold the position of the multilateral trading regime as the main channel for international rules-setting, and safeguard the stability of global industrial and supply chains.
Second, China will firmly share market opportunities with the rest of the world. China has a population of over 1.4 billion and a middle-income group of more than 400 million people. Our annual import in goods and services is valued at around US$2.5 trillion. All this offers an enormous market. Going forward, China will lay more emphasis on expanding import, and pursue balanced development of trade. China will open more demonstration zones for creative promotion of import trade, optimize the catalogue of retail imports via cross-border e-commerce, encourage the on-site processing of imported goods from trading between border residents, and increase imports from neighboring countries. China will better integrate its domestic and foreign trade, speed up the development of international consumption center cities, promote Silk Road e-commerce, build modern logistics systems, and shore up the capacity of cross-border logistics.
Third, China will firmly promote high-standard opening up. China will further shorten the negative list for foreign investment, and expand the opening of telecommunication, healthcare and other services in an orderly fashion. China will revise and enlarge the encouraged industry catalogue to guide more foreign investment toward sectors such as advanced manufacturing, modern services, high and new technology, energy conservation and environmental protection, and toward the central, western and northeastern regions. China will conduct stress tests for high-standard opening up in pilot free trade zones and the Hainan Free Trade Port, and will release a negative list for cross-border trade in services in the pilot free trade zones. China will deeply engage in international cooperation on green and low-carbon development and the digital economy, and work actively for joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA).
Fourth, China will firmly uphold the common interests of the world. China will take an active part in cooperation within the United Nations, the WTO, the G20, APEC, Shanghai Cooperation Organization and other institutions, and promote more discussions on such issues as trade and investment, the digital economy, and green and low-carbon development. China will support the fair distribution of and unimpeded trade in vaccines and other key medical supplies across the world. China will promote high-quality Belt and Road cooperation so that more countries and peoples will benefit from its development opportunities and real outcomes. China will actively join in global efforts to tackle climate change and safeguard food and energy security, and provide more assistance to fellow developing countries within the framework of South-South cooperation.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As a Chinese proverb reads, “The going may be tough when one walks alone, but it gets easier when people walk together.” As the pandemic continues to wreak havoc and the global economy faces a bumpy recovery, it is all the more imperative that people around the world pull together to tide over this difficult time. China stands ready to work with all countries to build an open world economy so that the spring breeze of openness will bring warmth to all parts of the world.