Implement the Free Trade Zone Strategy*
December 5, 2014
Standing at a new starting point in history, to achieve the Two Centenary Goals and the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation, we must adapt ourselves to the new trends of economic globalization, correctly evaluate the changing international situation, thoroughly understand the new demands in domestic reform and development, take more effective action to drive opening up to a higher level, and quicken the pace of implementing the free trade zone (FTZ) strategy and building an open economic system. We must take more initiative to further promote opening up to the outside world in a bid to boost economic development and win the international competition.
Accelerating the implementation of the FTZ strategy is an important element of a new round of opening up. The 17th CPC National Congress in 2007 listed the development of FTZs as a national strategy; the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012 required quickening the pace of implementing the FTZ strategy. The Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee in 2013 required that we accelerate the implementation of the FTZ strategy with neighboring countries as the basis, and create a global, high-standard FTZ network. The purpose of this group study session of the Political Bureau is to analyze the domestic and international situations we are facing and discuss how to speed up the implementation of the FTZ strategy.
We should correctly understand all new trends in economic globalization and the new demands of opening up at home. Expanding and advancing opening up, and promoting reform and development through opening up, is a powerful instrument through which China can achieve continuing progress. Opening up brings progress, while isolation leads to backwardness. International development and China's development both prove this to be true. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, we have taken the opportunity to speed up building an open economic system, and now a higher-level pattern of opening up is taking shape.
Multilateral trade system and regional trade arrangements are the two drivers for economic globalization. Now the global trade system is undergoing the largest round of reconstruction since the 1994 Uruguay Round negotiations. China is an active participant in and firm supporter of economic globalization, and also a major contributor and beneficiary. As China's economic development has entered a new normal, in order to address the difficulties and challenges in social and economic development, we should open wider to the outside world. As a Chinese saying goes, "Opportunities are rare and hard to grasp, and easy to lose."1 We must size up the situation if we are to seize the critical opportunities offered by economic globalization.
Accelerating the implementation of the FTZ strategy is an objective requirement for adapting to the new trends of economic globalization. It is the option we must choose if we are to achieve deeper reform and build an open economic system, and it is an important measure in addressing foreign relations and implementing foreign strategies. We should therefore move forward at a quicker pace, and allow the FTZs to facilitate trade investments, so as to expand international markets for Chinese enterprises, and inject new energy into and open new space for China's economic development.
They provide an important platform for China to participate in the formulation of international trade rules, and to acquire the institutional power for global economic governance. Therefore, we should not be a bystander or follower, but a participant and leader. We should enhance our international competitiveness by developing FTZs, giving China a greater voice and injecting more Chinese elements in the formulation of international rules, so as to protect and expand the interests of China's development.
Accelerating the implementation of the FTZ strategy is a complicated project. We should enhance top-level design and overall planning, planning for each individual step and the overall situation, build a global FTZ network with neighboring countries as the basis and radiating out through the Belt and Road, and negotiate with the countries and regions involved in the Belt and Road Initiative on establishing FTZs, thereby ensuring closer cooperation, more effective communication, and a closer union of interests between China and the countries and regions involved in the Belt and Road Initiative. We should increase the number and improve the quality of FTZs, try out bold initiatives and keep pace with the times, open the service industry wider to the outside world, and quicken negotiations in new fields. We should stay true to our principles, improve risk evaluation and guard against risks, promote pilot projects to confirm their worth, establish an integrative system to improve supervision, and build a safety network. We should continue to improve our own capability and do our own jobs well, accelerate market-oriented reforms, build a law-based business environment, quicken the pace of economic restructuring, promote industrial upgrading, encourage enterprises to expand business and become stronger, and improve our international competitiveness and the ability to withstand risks.
We should establish fair, inclusive, and transparent market rules, and improve the international competitiveness of our service industry. We should integrate the strategies of "bringing in" and "going global", improve foreign investment system and policies, tap the foreign investment potential of Chinese enterprises, and be courageous in and adept at allocating resources and expanding markets in a global context. We should accelerate the transition from a large to a major trading power, consolidate our traditional strengths in foreign trade, foster new competitive edges, expand the development space of foreign trade, and increase imports. We should build a strategic mentality and a global vision, and review the development of China and the world from the height of integrating the overall situations at home and abroad, pushing forward opening up.
* Main points of the speech at the 19th group study session of the Political Bureau of the 18th CPC Central Committee.
1 Wei Shou: Book of Wei (Wei Shu). Wei Shou (507-572) was a historian and writer during the Northern and Southern Dynasties.
(Not to be republished for any commercial or other purposes.)