Reform and opening-up:an ongoing process (by H.E. Jiang Jiang, Chinese Ambassador to Malta)



On 18 December 1978, the Communist Party of China held the third plenary session of the 11th Party Central Committee, which made the decision to shift the focus of the work of the Party and the state to economic development. This marked the beginning of China’s historic journey of reform and opening-up. Over the past forty years, reform and opening-up has not only transformed China, but also brought enormous opportunities to the world.

Thanks to reform and opening-up, China has moved from a country that had difficulty in meeting the basic needs of its people to the world’s second largest economy. Between 1978 and 2017, China’s GDP grew by 9.5% on average each year from $175 billion to $12 trillion. Over 700 million Chinese have been lifted out of abject poverty, accounting for more than 70% of the global total over the same period. China is shifting from a recipient of technology transfer to a country driven by innovation. In some cutting-edge frontiers, China has made world-leading advances. The Shenzhou Space Mission, the deep-sea manned submersible Jiaolong, the five-hundred-meter aperture spherical radio telescope (FAST) and Beidou Navigation Satellite System, to name just a few, are all results of China’s significant advancement in science and technology. China’s technological achievement is making life easier and the society more invigorated. Gone are the days of ration coupons. Today, shopping globally online has become a daily experience. No longer the “kingdom on bikes”, China now tops the world in its mileage of high speed rail. And these are just some of the personal experiences that I and many other average Chinese share on a daily basis.

In the past 40 years, while pursuing its own progress, China has always embraced the world with open arms and contributed to the prosperity of the world. China is committed to its state policy of opening-up. It has pursued development with its door open and succeeded in transforming a closed and semi-closed economy into a fully open economy. From its accession to the WTO to the Belt and Road Initiative, China has made key contribution to tackling the Asian financial crisis and the global financial crisis. For years, China has generated over 30% of global growth. It is a major stabilizer and engine of the world economy. China has actively sought free trade arrangements and advanced bilateral and multilateral trade and investment. It is now the top trading partner of over 120 countries. This year, China continues to be the world’s biggest exporter of goods, taking up 12.8% of world export. China is also the second largest importer of goods. The recent China International Import Expo in Shanghai attracted the political and business leaders from over 130 countries. The Hon. Prime Minister Joseph Muscat personally attended the opening ceremony of the expo. This expo represents yet another significant step China has taken to support free trade and open its market to the world.

It is true that in the current global and domestic economic context, China’s development is confronted with some challenges. Uncertainties in some areas are growing. Some enterprises are facing increasing difficulties. And risks and challenges have heightened in certain sectors. In a broader context though, dealing with these challenges is simply a part of the process to move forward. So long as we maintain our strategic focus, deepen reform and opening-up across the board, make every effort to tackle the issues we face, we will overcome all difficulties and challenges that come our way and open up even brighter prospects for China’s development.

China will not waver in its commitment to reform. We will put in place an economic system based on effective market mechanisms, dynamic market players and proper macro regulation. We will minimize direct government intervention in market activities, implement the negative list for market access in real earnest, improve market order and create an internationally competitive business environment. Our goal is to achieve high-quality development and build a modernized economy.

China will not waver in its commitment to opening-up. Openness brings progress while seclusion leads to backwardness, and China will only open its door wider to the world. At the annual meeting of the Boao Forum for Asia in April, President Xi Jinping announced a series of new measures to expand opening-up, which are being implemented at a fast pace. China will continue to foster a more attractive investment environment, enhance alignment with international rules, increase transparency, uphold the rule of law, encourage competition and oppose monopoly. We will strengthen IPR protection, expand imports and achieve greater balance of international payments under the current account.

China will work with other countries for solid progress in building the Belt and Road under the principle of consultation, cooperation and benefit for all. Next year, China will host the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. We are willing to work with Malta and all other countries to ensure more sustained progress in Belt and Road cooperation.

Building on the past forty years, we are ever more confident about our mission of carrying forward reform and opening up. We will stay level-headed about the challenges we face and pursue reform and opening-up, an ongoing process, with a renewed sense of mission, responsibility and commitment. We believe that China will present the world with yet another success story in the next forty years.

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