Chronicle of reform and opening-up in China

As a landmark project of the Belt and Road Initiative, the Mombasa-Nairobi SGR was built for traffic on May 30, 2017. The 480-km SGR, built by the China Road and Bridge Corporation stretches from the port of Mombasa to Kenya’s capital Nairobi, involving a total investment of 3.8 billion U.S. dollars. It is Kenya’s largest infrastructure project since the country gained independence. (Photo/ CFP)

I. 1978: The 3rd plenary session of the 11thCentral Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC)was held in Beijing

In December 1978, the 11th Central Committee of the CPC held its third plenary session Beijing, marking the prelude to the reform and opening-up policy through which China would carry out reform domestically and open itself to the world.

The meeting decided that the focus of the Party’s work should shift to socialist modernization as of 1979, and the new mission of the Party was to build the country into a great modern socialist country.

II. 1979: The first special economic zones were built

In July 1979, the country planned to launch special pilot export zones in Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Shantou and Xiamen, and renamed them as special economic zones the next May.

The special economic zones, when firstly established, played a crucial role in promoting reform and opening-up, and expanding foreign economic exchanges as the country lacked experience in doing business with other countries and suffered from an incomplete legal system.

III. 1982: The household responsibility system was adopted

On January 1, 1982, the Party unveiled its first document ever on rural work, adopting the household responsibility system. In the system, a household is taken as a unit and given a quota of goods to produce. It is also contracted with land and other production facilities for independent production and operation according to the contract.

In 1983, the system started to be promoted nationwide, finding a new path for rationalizing the country’s rural production and opening the chapter for rural reform.

IV. 1986: The reform on enterprise ownership was launched

On December 5, 1986, the State Council announced the “Provisions on deepening the reform and enhancing vitality of enterprises”. The Provision stipulated that state-owned small enterprises can actively introduce trial leasing and contract operation.

State-owned large and medium-sized enterprises would adopt various forms of management responsibility. A few eligible private-owned large and medium-sized enterprises would be selected for trials.

The introduction of the provision was of great significance for further streamlining administration and delegating powers, expanding enterprise autonomy, propelling reform of the internal mechanisms of the enterprises.

V. 1992: Deng Xiaoping delivered speeches during his tour to southern China

At the beginning of 1992, Deng Xiaoping, the chief architect of China’s economic reform, made a series of speeches during his famous tour to southern China, further pushing forward the country’s economic reform.

In the speeches, Deng reiterated the necessity and significance of deepening reform and speeding up development, stressed that the country should hold onto economic construction as the central task, unswervingly adhere to the basic lines of the Party for the primary stage of socialism for the next 100 years and achieve common prosperity step by step. His remarks pointed direction for reform and opening-up in the new era.

VI. 2001: China joined WTO

On Dec.11, 2011, China officially joined the World Trade Organization (WTO), becoming the 143th member of the economic bloc. It signified that the country had moved its opening-up onto a new stage. After its accession to the bloc, China deeply took part in the process of economic globalization, providing huge opportunities for the global market.

VII. 2013: China proposed the Belt and Road Initiative and prepared to launch the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)

In the fall of 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping unveiled the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road concepts. The co-construction of the Belt and Road is becoming a Chinese solution for China to take part in global openness and cooperation, facilitate common prosperity of the world, and push for the construction of a community with a shared future for mankind.

To promote steady implementation of the Belt and Road construction, President Xi proposed to prepare for the launch of AIIB. On Dec.25, 2015, the bank was set up and a month later was open for business. AIIB, the first China-proposed multilateral financial organization in the world, has recruited 87 members so far.

VIII. 2013: The first pilot free trade zone was launched in China

In September 2013, the State Council approved the establishment of China (Shanghai) Pilot Free-Trade Zone (FTZ), which marked the official establishment of the first of its kind in China.

The key system exploration of the FTZ is investment management centered on negative list management, a trade regulatory system centered on trade facilitation and an innovative financial system targeting capital account convertibility and service openness, with the aim of building an innovative system that measures up to international trade and investment rules and standards.

The free trade zone gives full play to the radiating and leading effect of key functions such as finance, trade, advanced manufacturing and science and technology innovation. It indicates that China’s reform and opening up has reached a comprehensive level.
At present, China has approved the establishment of 11 pilot free trade zones in Shanghai, Guangdong, Tianjin, Fujian, Shaanxi, etc.

IX. 2015: The RMB joined the SDR basket

In Dec. 2015, the International Monetary Fund decided to include China’s RMB in the SDR basket, and the decision came into effect on Oct. 1, 2016.

The RMB officially became the fifth currency in the SDR basket, following the U.S. dollar, the euro, the British pound, and the Japanese yen. RMB’s inclusion injected fresh impetus to the currency’s globalization. It was conducive for China’s new round of reform and opening up, as well as the further improvement of the international monetary system.

X. 2017: The 19th CPC National Congress was held in Beijing

In October 2017, the 19th CPC National Congress was held in Beijing. The National Congress made clear plans to comprehensively deepen reform, further promote the country’s national governance and the modernization of the same, and urged the country to develop a well-built, scientific and effective institutional system. The 19th CPC National Congress ushered in a new chapter for socialism with Chinese characteristics.   

XI. 2018: The first China International Import Expo was held in Shanghai

In November 2018, the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) was successfully held in Shanghai, attracting more than 400,000 domestic and overseas purchasers. During the Expo, deals for intended purchase of goods and services within a year totaled $57.83 billion.

CIIE was the world’s first import expo held at national level, an innovation in the history of global trade. It is a major initiative for China to show its support for trade liberalization and economic globalization, and further open up its market to the rest of the world. It is conducive to boosting the growth of the global trade and economy, and will push the development of an open world economy.

Visitors wow at a flying car produced by AeroMobil from Slovakia at the exhibition area of automobiles during the CIIE. Photo by Weng Qiyu from People’s Daily Online

A staff member of an American company introduces an eye inspection instrument at the exhibition area of medical equipment & health care. Photo by Huang Chao from People’s Daily

Source: People’s Daily

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