Ren Hongbin: Expanding Prospects for Chinese Modernization Through High-Standard Opening Up

2023-09-15 14:41:47 | Author:Ren Hongbin | Source:en.qstheory.cn2023-09-13

The China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) plays a key role in facilitating foreign trade, bilateral investment, and economic and technological cooperation. On May 18, 2022, in a speech via video link at the Conference on the 70th Anniversary of CCPIT & Global Trade and Investment Promotion Summit, President Xi Jinping expressed his hope that the CCPIT would “strengthen its service network for businesses, expand its international circle of friends, and score still greater achievements in contributing to high-quality development and a new development dynamic in China and to the building of an open world economy.” On the new journey in the new era, the CCPIT will take solid steps to promote high-standard opening up to make greater contributions to advancing Chinese modernization.

I. Achievements in opening up over the past decade

Since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, China has pursued a more proactive strategy and advanced a broader agenda of opening up across more areas and in greater depth, making historic achievements in developing an open economy.

Stable and high-quality foreign trade and investment

Foreign trade and investment have served as major drivers of China’s economic growth, accounting for a significant share of the contribution made by the trio of consumption, investment, and exports. Stable fundamentals in foreign trade and investment are vital for implementing the national policy of opening up and cementing China’s standing as a leading proponent of openness. China is now a major trading partner of over 140 countries and regions; it has led the world in total volume of global trade in goods for six consecutive years and has ranked second globally in terms of utilized foreign investment for five consecutive years. Pilot free trade zones, the Hainan Free Trade Port, and the Guangdong-Macao In-Depth Cooperation Zone in Hengqin have been established and achieved innovative development. In addition, the number of items on the national and pilot free trade zone negative lists for foreign investment has been cut by 51% and 72%, respectively.

High-quality joint development of the Belt and Road Initiative

Since 2012, major concrete achievements have been secured in Belt and Road cooperation. China has signed more than 200 agreements on cooperation with 151 countries and 32 international organizations. The volume of trade in goods between China and countries along the Belt and Road has grown at an average annual rate of 8%, and total bilateral investment has surpassed US$270 billion. Cooperation on industrial and supply chains has also steadily improved, with China-Europe Railway Express continuing to set new records for the number of trips. A series of landmark Belt and Road projects have come to fruition. These achievements have delivered tangible benefits to local people along the Belt and Road.

Greater emphasis on security during the course of opening up

The more open we are, the more we must focus on security, and the more we must strike a balance between development and security. Since 2012, China has accelerated efforts to adapt its security systems to the needs of opening up. We have revised the Foreign Trade Law and promulgated laws and regulations such as the Foreign Investment Law and the Provisions on the Unreliable Entity List. We have established early-warning and legal-service mechanisms for trade frictions, worked to guard against risks concerning outward investment and cooperation, and guided enterprises in strengthening compliance management. We have also stepped up protection of China’s overseas interests and developed a system of laws with extraterritorial application.

Active participation in global economic governance

China has proactively shouldered its international responsibilities, advocated and practiced true multilateralism, and strived to safeguard world peace, contribute to global development, and preserve international order. As a result, its international influence, appeal, and strength have risen markedly. Ten years ago, President Xi creatively proposed the idea of building a global community of shared future and then subsequently put forward the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative, and the Global Civilizations Initiative. Over the past decade, the concept of building a global community of shared future has gone from vision to reality and is now providing powerful momentum for global development. China has consecutively hosted a series of major diplomatic events, including the 2014 APEC Summit in Beijing, the G20 Hangzhou Summit, the BRICS Summit in Xiamen, and the SCO Summit in Qingdao, all of which have helped promote more substantive multilateral cooperation. The Chinese business community has transitioned from passively following international economic and trade rules to actively participating in and making a major contribution to their formulation. It has also come to play an increasingly important role in promoting the reform of the global economic governance and the recovery of the world economy.


The Conference on the 70th Anniversary of CCPIT & Global Trade and Investment Promotion Summit is held in Beijing, May 18, 2022. Since its establishment in 1952, the council has grounded itself in China’s realities and demonstrated its global vision, playing an important role in strengthening bonds between Chinese and foreign enterprises, promoting international economic and trade exchanges, and facilitating the development of relations between nations. PHOTO BY XINHUA REPORTER LI XIN

II. Responsibilities for driving Chinese modernization

As momentous changes on a scale not seen in a century unfold at an accelerated pace, a significant shift is taking place in the international balance of power, competition between major countries is becoming increasingly fierce, and geopolitical conflicts are intensifying. We have seen a backlash against economic globalization. Unilateralism and protectionism are on the rise. All this poses formidable difficulties for the global economic recovery. Indeed, China has entered a period of development in which strategic opportunities, risks, and challenges are concurrent and uncertainties and unforeseen factors are increasing. Over time, the importance of opening up will become increasingly apparent, as will the role of institutions in facilitating trade and investment. In this light, the CCPIT should focus on the following tasks.

Promoting high-quality development

High-quality development is an essential element of Chinese modernization. Opening up has been instrumental for China in its efforts to advance reform and development. This is reflected in the way we have leveraged opening up to facilitate improvements to the socialist market economy, thus enabling the market to play the decisive role in resource allocation and the government to better play its role. Opening up has also been evident in our efforts to drive the transformation, restructuring, and upgrading of our economy. To do our work well, the CCPIT must, first and foremost, focus on high-quality development. We must fully and faithfully apply the new development philosophy on all fronts and work to bring about a transformation in quality through transformations in efficiency and growth drivers. We must move faster to build the CCPIT into a distinctively Chinese, dynamic, and world-leading institution for trade and investment promotion. We must continue to venture into new areas, generate fresh momentum, and develop competitive edges in new arenas. Such efforts will help reinforce the notable features, strengths, and effectiveness of our work in the course of advancing Chinese modernization. It will also ensure that we embark on a development path defined by higher quality and dynamism.

Accelerating the creation of a new development dynamic

Creating a new development dynamic that is focused on the domestic economy and features positive interplay between domestic and international economic flows represents a strategic plan for seizing the initiative in development. To do our work well, the CCPIT must better leverage trade and investment promotion platforms to ensure the free flow of commodities and factors of production. We must improve the quality and effectiveness of our efforts to facilitate smooth domestic and international economic flows and promote the liberation and facilitation of trade and investment. We should strive to ensure that domestic and foreign demand are mutually reinforcing, imports and exports are well-coordinated, goods and services are given equal emphasis, and trade and investment are integrated. We must promote market connectivity, industry integration, mutually reinforcing innovation, and regulatory alignment. These actions will make China’s industrial and supply chains more resilient and secure, and amplify the interplay between domestic and international markets and resources.

Working for an open world economy

With a new round of scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation well under way, countries are becoming increasingly interconnected and interdependent. China will always remain committed to safeguarding and promoting world peace through its own development, as the development of China and the world are deeply intertwined and mutually reinforcing. High-standard opening up and mutually beneficial international cooperation have been reflected in our efforts to seek broader consensus on global openness and cooperation with a more open mind and approach. We have worked in concert with others to make the pie of the global market bigger, strengthen mechanisms for sharing benefits globally, and explore new modes of international cooperation. Such efforts have enabled China to make good use of global markets and resources to propel its own development while promoting shared development around the world. To do our work well, the CCPIT must fully leverage both people-to-people diplomacy, which acts as a “lubricant” for international trade, and economic and trade cooperation, which serves as an important anchor. We must seek to create closer shared interests with other countries and assist enterprises from around the world in seizing opportunities in terms of markets, investment, and growth, thereby providing greater stability and positivity for world peace and development.

III. Expanding high-standard opening up

We are on a new journey to build China into a modern socialist country, and we are closer, more confident, and more capable than ever of reaching the goal of rejuvenating the Chinese nation. With this in mind, the CCPIT will focus on the following priorities.

Accelerating China’s transformation into a trader of quality by maintaining trade stability while boosting quality

Making a stronger push to promote international trade is essential for our endeavors to refine the structure of foreign trade while keeping volume stable and to accelerate China’s transition from a trader of quantity to one of quality. For its part, the CCPIT will redouble efforts to maintain trade volumes and refine trade structures. We will organize overseas economic and trade exhibitions, continue to cultivate overseas exhibition brands, and expand the scale of these exhibitions. We will support various regions and industries in holding themed international exhibitions, ensure better linkages between the supply and procurement of key exhibition events, and help enterprises to focus on competitive products and key markets to boost exports. We will expand imports of advanced technology, key equipment, and high-quality consumer goods. With a view to keeping industrial and supply chains resilient and stable, the CCPIT will host the China International Supply Chain Expo and develop it into a platform that integrates upstream, midstream, and downstream industries, links enterprises of all sizes, and brings together enterprises, universities, research institutes, and end-users. We will also strengthen services and support for market expansion, closely monitor the demands of foreign trade enterprises and promptly respond to their needs, and optimize services for issuing Certificates of Origin and ATA Carnets. Stronger efforts will also be made to provide training and guidance for enterprises and to assist them in overcoming difficulties and identifying potential risks.

Fostering a world-class business environment by improving services

International competition for foreign investment is increasingly fierce. Stepping up efforts to both stabilize and increase foreign investment, the CCPIT will leverage its close foreign business contacts, multiple service platforms, and expansive reach to augment the functions of its nationwide task force for serving foreign-funded companies. We will stay in close contact with transnational corporations and foreign business associations and organize events including a series of local tours for foreign-invested enterprises. We will assist companies in understanding policies and measures in China to boost confidence and stabilize expectations and roll out a greater number of high-quality foreign-invested projects. To promote opening up at the institutional level, we will improve the business environment monitoring system and support institutional innovation and industry clustering in pilot free trade zones and the Hainan Free Trade Port. We will host the Business Conference on Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area Development with a view to encouraging business people from Hong Kong and Macao to participate in building an open, modernized economy. We will also work to refine the system of commercial legal services for the public. To this end, we will host the Global Business and Law Conference, improve services in the areas of commercial certification and intellectual property, and raise the credibility of Chinese international arbitration and commercial mediation, so as to develop China as a destination for international commercial dispute resolution.

Deepening foreign economic and trade relations with a commitment to mutual benefit

The development of economic and trade relations ultimately depends on production and business cooperation among enterprises. Serving as a bridge and pathway for opening up, the CCPIT will continue to strengthen people-to-people and economic relations, implement bilateral and multilateral business cooperation mechanisms, and strengthen communication and links with business communities in other countries. In doing so, we will promote economic and trade cooperation between China and the rest of the world, boost the level and quality of trade and investment cooperation, and better promote bilateral, multilateral, and regional cooperation. By hosting the Global Trade and Investment Promotion Summit, we will continue to deepen exchanges with our counterparts and business associations in other countries and create new prospects for cooperation and mutual benefit. We will promote high-quality development of the Belt and Road Initiative by publicizing related policies, ensuring the success of key events such as the Belt and Road CEO Conference, and expanding collaboration in areas such as healthcare, environmental protection, digital technology, and innovation. We will build a globally oriented network of high-standard free trade zones and ensure full implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and other free trade agreements. We will also improve public service platforms, compile and distribute user guides for key industries, and hold forums and training events for enterprises to help them benefit from preferential policies in free trade agreements.


A light show and drone performance at the China Pavilion of the Dubai World Expo in the United Arab Emirates, March 20, 2022. Themed “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future,” the expo was held from October 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022. As the administrative  organization responsible for Chinese participation in the expo, the CCPIT made a substantial contribution to the construction and operation of the China Pavilion. CCPIT

Participating in global economic governance with a worldly vision

As China moves closer to the center of the world stage, the CCPIT must adopt a global vision, apply strategic thinking, and advocate global economic governance featuring equality, openness, cooperation, and shared benefits. The CCPIT will work with the business community to encourage multilateral mechanisms, such as the WTO, the G20, and APEC, to perform more effectively, fully participate in cooperation mechanisms such as BRICS and the SCO, and push for international macroeconomic policy coordination. We will play a more active part in the Bureau International des Expositions, the International Chamber of Commerce, and other international organizations and deepen strategic cooperation with the World Intellectual Property Organization and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization. We will also actively participate in the formulation of international trade regulations and standards, train and endorse more personnel to serve in international organizations, and put forward pragmatic proposals in spheres such as the digital economy and green and low-carbon development based on more intensive analysis and research. We will use the unique role of the China Pavilion at World Expos to promote exchanges with other cultures and prepare meticulously for our participation in the 2025 World Expo in Osaka, Japan, ensuring we showcase the best of traditional Chinese culture and the most recent achievements of Chinese modernization.

Ren Hongbin is Chairman and Secretary of the CPC Leadership Group, China Council for the Promotion of International Trade.

(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No. 10, 2023)

Source: English Edition of Qiushi Journal, No.4,2023