China's continued opening-up measures will accelerate high-quality development during the next five years and create several development opportunities for global investors, officials and experts said.
He Lifeng, head of the National Development and Reform Commission, said China will continue to pursue high-standard opening-up at various levels during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25), with a key focus on opening up more sectors in a more thorough fashion and boosting international economic cooperation.
"China will not shut its door to opening-up. Instead, it will embrace the world with more open arms," He said on Sunday at the China Development Forum 2021 in Beijing. "We have to facilitate trade and investment, further promote steady development of imports and exports, shorten the negative list for foreign investment access, improve post-establishment national treatment …"
More efforts will also be made to pursue high-quality development via the Belt and Road Initiative, improve infrastructure connectivity and e-commerce along the Belt and Road, deepen international industrial capacity cooperation, maintain multilateral economic governance framework, work toward signing more high-quality free trade deals and build a community of shared future for humanity, said He.
Speaking about the new dual-circulation development pattern in the 14th Five-Year Plan, Qian Keming, vice-minister of commerce, said: "What we envision is not a development loop behind closed doors, but a more open domestic and international circulation.
"With domestic residents' improved standard of living and the acceleration of industrial upgrading, China has witnessed a growing demand for high-end consumer goods, intermediate goods, capital goods and services. However, due to the insufficient high-quality domestic supply, we need to expand opening-up and increase imports to balance the gap between demand and supply. To foster smooth domestic circulation, we may need to import more than $2 trillion worth of goods and nearly $500 billion worth of services each year."
As a next step, Qian said, the Ministry of Commerce will ramp up efforts to advance opening-up on a larger scale and at a deeper level, including lowering the market access threshold for foreign investment, expanding institutional opening-up, improving the business environment and deepening international cooperation.
Under the new development pattern, high-level opening-up measures will promote better connections between China and the rest of the world and enable China to share more opportunities for common development with other countries, Qian said.
Xu Hongcai, deputy director of the China Association of Policy Science's economic policy committee, said China had ramped up efforts to advance opening-up last year, despite COVID-19, and has already made a good start this year.
"To deepen reforms and expand opening-up at higher levels, China needs to pursue institutional opening-up measures instead of simply boosting liberalization and facilitation of trade investment, including improving its system for foreign investment management based on pre-establishment national treatment and negative list and encouraging fair market competition," Xu said.
Zhang Yansheng, chief researcher at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said the country's new development paradigm emphasizes building an open economy and bolstering ties with other nations, demonstrating the firm determination to deeply integrate itself into the wider global economy.
William Zhao, country chair of Total China, the local unit of the French oil and gas giant, said he remains optimistic on the huge growth potential of the Chinese market.
"China was the first country to come out of the pandemic. Its economy bounced back last year and will grow very strongly this year," Zhao said.
"China has been reducing the negative list and opening up the economy to foreign investors for years. That's a great step forward. I think the next step is about really attracting FDI as well as technology investment to develop the next stage in the energy sector … For Total, I think it's very important to be here and invest in this environment."