BEIJING — China’s political sessions have sent a clear message to the world: the country will continue to deepen reforms in various fields. A more open China will play a more important role on the world stage.
Forty years ago, late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping opened the curtains on China’s reform and opening-up drive. Huge changes have taken place since then. The country is now in a race to further deepen reforms with its doors expected to open even wider to the world.
Wide open market, lower tariff
China’s economy has grown rapidly since then, becoming the world’s second largest and an engine of world economy, and contributing more than 30 percent of global growth.
This year, the government set its GDP growth target at around 6.5 percent. To achieve this goal, a wide open Chinese market is expected, allowing China to attract more foreign investors as well as to better integrate with the international market.
China will open its doors wider to foreign investors and further liberalize and facilitate trade and investment, said Premier Li Keqiang, when delivering a government work report at the ongoing first session of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC).
China will fully open its general manufacturing sector and expand foreign investment access to sectors like financial services, telecommunications and medical services, Premier Li added.
It will expand imports and lower import tariffs this year. The first China International Import Expo in November will bring more foreign goods to China.
NPC deputy Ma Huateng, founder and chairman of tech giant Tencent, said having lived in Shenzhen for more than 30 years, he is a witness and beneficiary of the reform and opening-up drive.
Over the past four decades, Shenzhen has developed from a small fishing village to a metropolis. Ma’s company has developed from one with only five members to one of the 10 biggest internet companies in the world.
“I hope technology and innovation can further push forward reform and opening-up in the future,” Ma said.
Reform and opening-up from the late 1970s resulted in the rise of the eastern and coastal areas of China, while deepened reforms today will spread to the central and western regions to ultimately achieve common prosperity for everyone.
As the sluggish recovery of the global economy continues, China’s persistent deepening of economic reforms will enhance its role as the driving force and stabilizer of the world economy, said Jiang Yuechun, an analyst with the China Institute of International Studies.
Better-structured gov’t, new anti-graft law
In the political field, China has also shown its determination to deepen reforms.
The State Council unveiled a massive cabinet restructuring plan on March 13, which was submitted to the NPC first session for review, pending approval.
If passed, the cabinet would have 15 fewer entities at the ministerial or vice-ministerial levels. The move will make the government better structured, more efficient, and service-oriented.
On March 11, the national legislature adopted a constitutional amendment, which was the first amendment to the country’s fundamental law in 14 years.
Reform will carry on in the country’s supervisory institutions. A draft supervision law was submitted for its third reading at the national legislature on March 11.
The supervision law is expected to serve as a fundamental and guiding law against corruption and for state supervision, said Li Jianguo, vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the 12th National People’s Congress (NPC).
New supervisory commissions, to be established at the national level and different local levels, will independently exercise supervisory power and will not be subject to interference from the government, social organizations or individuals.
“Reform in the supervisory system is a pioneering measure in China. The supervision law will provide crucial political and legal guarantee for the anti-corruption campaigns,” said Xia Hongmin, an NPC deputy from Southwest China’s Guizhou province.
China will advance institutional social reforms this year, covering old-age pensions, public hospitals and healthcare. More efforts will be made to boost employment, increase people’s income, eliminate poverty and reduce disparities in urban-rural development.
In the fight against poverty, China has set a goal for over 10 million people to be lifted out of poverty in 2018. The government will pay more attention to rural areas and give more support to areas affected by extreme poverty.
According to the cabinet restructuring plan, a new ministry to push forward the development of the agricultural sector and rural areas will be formed.
“The move can incorporate resources in rural areas and those related to agriculture, and it favors further reforms in rural areas and can help solve problems related to agriculture, rural areas and farmers,” said Lei Yanqin, an NPC deputy and also a township head from Jiangxi province.
“Reforms in rural areas will bring more opportunities to rural residents and increase their income,” Lei said.
Reforms in education, culture and sports are also under way.
Many places in China are still confronted with unbalanced educational development. To solve the problem, the government plans to promote the integrated development of urban and rural compulsory education, and will continue to weigh funding for education toward poor areas and weak links.
China also plans to merge the Ministry of Culture and National Tourism Administration into a ministry of culture and tourism.
The move is aimed at coordinating the development of the cultural and tourism industries, enhancing the country’s soft power and cultural influence, and promoting cultural exchanges internationally, State Councilor Wang Yong said.
“The reform and opening-up that started 40 years ago has created miracles in China. It has not only stimulated China’s economy, but has also strengthened relations between China and the world. It has also injected vitality into the country’s social development,” said Huang Lihui, an NPC deputy.
As a private entrepreneur, Huang said he is looking forward to seeing continuous deepening of reform in all respects and more preferential policies toward the private economy.