Evolving openness
Editorial  ·  2024-07-08  ·   Source: NO.28 JULY 11, 2024

From the Alpine town of Davos to the Chinese coastal city of Dalian, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has come a long way. In 1978, the year when China launched its reform and opening-up policy, Klaus Schwab, WEF founder and Executive Chairman, extended an invitation to Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, the architect of this transformative policy. Deng sent a high-level delegation to the 1979 annual meeting. Just a few months later, Schwab visited Beijing with a European business delegation that included 20 CEOs. With the signing of a memorandum of understanding, the knot was tied.

In 2005, Schwab proposed the idea of a Summer Davos in China, to complement the regular annual meeting that gathers foremost political and business leaders in Davos, Switzerland, in winter. Dalian, Liaoning Province, and Tianjin, a port municipality directly under the jurisdiction of the Central Government, were chosen to take turns to host the event, officially known as the Annual Meeting of the New Champions. The first edition took place in Dalian in 2007.

China's reform and opening up have also come a long way over recent decades. As it turns itself into the world's second largest economy and an upper middle-income country, the country has become increasingly integrated into the world. President Xi Jinping has called for "high-standard opening up." It means China will give priority to aligning domestic rules with the world's leading investment and trade rules. It will also amplify the interplay between domestic and international markets and resources.

In 2018, the China International Import Expo, the world's first national-level expo to promote imports, made its debut. Since 2021, China has been negotiating with members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership to join the 11-member Asia-Pacific free trade pact, considered to have the highest standards for trade rules and market access. It has shortened its foreign investment negative list, an international approach that specifies areas off-limits to overseas investors, from 190 items to 27 in its 22 pilot free trade zones and 31 in other areas. A total of 21,764 foreign-invested firms set up shop in China in the first five months of this year, a year-on-year increase of 17.4 percent.

A consensus that emerged during this year's Summer Davos in Dalian in June was that cooperation is paramount to navigating the rapidly evolving world. Indeed, what connects China and the renowned forum is a shared commitment to globalization. Going forward, it is safe to say China's doors will only open wider.

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