PRESIDENT Xi Jinping said yesterday China will significantly lower the import tariffs for vehicles and reduce import tariffs for some other products this year.
“We will take the initiative to expand imports,” Xi said in a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia annual conference held in the southern island province of Hainan.
The country will work hard to import more products that are competitive and needed by the Chinese people, he said.
China will also seek faster progress toward joining the WTO Government Procurement Agreement, according to the president.
“China does not seek trade surplus; we have a genuine desire to increase imports and achieve greater balance of international payments under the current account,” he said.
Speaking of the first China International Import Expo to be held in Shanghai this November, Xi said friends from around the world are welcome to participate in the expo.
“It is not just another expo in an ordinary sense, but a major policy initiative and commitment taken of our own accord to open up the Chinese market,” he said.
Meanwhile, China hopes developed countries will stop imposing restrictions on normal and reasonable trade of high-tech products and relax export controls on such trade with China, according to the president.
China will launch a number of landmark measures this year to significantly broaden its market access, Xi said.
Late last year, China announced that measures would be taken to raise foreign equity caps in the banking, securities and insurance industries. “We will ensure that these measures are materialized,” Xi said.
China will accelerate the opening up of the insurance industry, ease restrictions on the establishment of foreign financial institutions in China, expand their business scope, and open up more areas of cooperation between Chinese and foreign financial markets, he said.
On manufacturing, he said China has basically opened up this sector with a small number of exceptions on automobiles, ships and aircraft.
“These industries are now in a position to open up. Going forward, we will reduce as soon as possible limits on foreign investment in these industries, automobiles in particular,” Xi said.
China will improve the investment environment for foreign investors.
Likening investment environment to air, Xi said that only fresh air can attract more investment from the outside.
“China relied mainly on providing favorable policies for foreign investors in the past, but now we will have to rely more on improving the investment environment,” he said.
Xi said that China will complete the revision of the negative list on foreign investment in the first half of the year and implement across the board the management system based on pre-establishment national treatment — which means that foreign investors and their investments will be accorded national treatment in the pre-establishment phase of their businesses — and negative list.
“We will enhance alignment with international economic and trading rules, increase transparency, strengthen property right protection, uphold the rule of law, encourage competition and oppose monopoly,” he said.
In March, China established a host of new agencies such as the State Administration for Market Regulation as part of a major readjustment of government institutions.
The purpose of this readjustment, Xi said, was to remove the systematic and institutional obstacles that prevent the market from playing a decisive role in resources allocation, and enable the government to better play its role.
China will adopt policies to promote high-standard liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment, and explore the opening of free trade ports with Chinese characteristics, Xi said.
“We will pay equal attention to ‘bringing in’ and ‘going global,’ and break new ground in opening China further through links running eastward and westward, across land and over sea,” he said.
China will strengthen protection of intellectual property rights (IPR). IPR protection is the centerpiece of the system for improving property rights protection, and it would provide the biggest boost to enhancing the competitiveness of the Chinese economy, the president said.
China is reinstituting the State Intellectual Property Office this year to step up law enforcement, significantly raise the cost for offenders and fully unlock the deterrent effect of relevant laws, according to the president.
“We encourage normal technological exchanges and cooperation between Chinese and foreign enterprises, and protect the lawful IPR owned by foreign enterprises in China,” he said.
Meanwhile, China hopes foreign governments will also improve protection of Chinese IPR, the president said.
China will not threaten anyone else, attempt to overturn the existing international system, or seek spheres of influence, no matter how much progress it has made in development.
The country will “stay as determined as ever to build world peace, contribute to global prosperity and uphold the international order,” he said.
Over the past 40 years, China’s GDP has averaged an annual growth rate of around 9.5 percent in comparable prices, Xi said.
The country’s foreign trade has registered an annual growth of 14.5 percent in U.S. dollars, according to him.
“The Chinese people have emerged from a life of shortages and poverty and are now enjoying abundant supply and a moderately prosperous life,” Xi noted.
According to current UN standards, more than 700 million Chinese people have been lifted out of poverty, accounting for more than 70 percent of the global total over the same period, he said.
Four decades of reform and opening up has provided many valuable inspirations, he said.
“The most important one is that for any country or nation to achieve rejuvenation, they must follow the logic of history and the trend of the times in their pursuit of progress and development,” Xi said. “China’s reform and opening up meets its people’s aspiration for development, innovation and a better life. It also meets the global trend toward development, cooperation and peace.”
He said in a world aspiring to peace and development, the cold-war and zero-sum mentality look even more out of place.
“Putting oneself on a pedestal or trying to immune oneself from adverse developments will get nowhere,” said Xi.
He called for people around the world to work together toward a community with a shared future for mankind and make Asia and the world peaceful, tranquil, prosperous, open and beautiful.
“With the future in mind, we need to treat each other with respect and as equals,” said Xi.
Xi Jinping outlined missions the Chinese people need to undertake in the new era.
“Each age and generation have their own challenges and missions. China has come a long way, but it has to overcome new challenges on its way ahead,” Xi said.
According to him, the nation’s missions in the new era include continuing to improve itself through reform, taking bold steps in innovation to boost development, continuing to increase openness and expand cooperation, and working together with the rest of the world to make greater contributions to humanity.
China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) may be China’s idea, but its opportunities and outcomes are going to benefit the world, he said.
China has no geopolitical calculations, seeks no exclusionary blocs and imposes no business deals on others, the president said.
“It must be pointed out that as the BRI is a new initiative, it is perfectly natural for there to be different views on cooperation. As long as the parties embrace the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, we can surely enhance cooperation and resolve differences,” he said.
“This way, we can make the BRI the broadest platform for international cooperation in keeping with the trend of economic globalization and to the greater benefit of all our peoples.”