China’s international exchanges over the past month, including highlevel bilateral talks, multilateral forums, a global trade fair, and a regional expo, highlight the country’s pursuit of openness and cooperation.
During the first half of 2021, China’s trade volume climbed by 27.1 percent year-on-year to RMB 18.07 trillion, according to General Administration of Customs statistics, signifying an upbeat, stable growth momentum. The rapid growth of cross-border e-commerce is the new driving force behind China’s robust trade, its total trade volume in this sector having exceeded RMB 700 billion during the first five months of the year, a 36.9 percent year-on-year increase. Besides external factors and the growing competitive edge of Chinese products, experts ascribe this growth to China’s stable foreign trade policy and the country’s new opening-up platforms, including comprehensive bonded zones, pilot free trade zones, and the Hainan Free Trade Port. Ever more proactive and forward-looking in rolling out new opening-up measures, China’s strengthened international economic and trade cooperation and regional trade agreements bolster its burgeoning trade.
The total of 179 deals, worth a record-breaking US $46.59 billion, that were signed at the 18th China-ASEAN Expo held in mid-September in Nanning, capital of south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, moreover, marks an annual 13.7 percent increase. Initiated in 2004, the annual event is an important platform for promoting China-ASEAN trade and bilateral relations. This year’s China-ASEAN Expo, marking the 30th anniversary of China-ASEAN dialogue relations, highlighted the vitality of this integrated regional market, and the platform’s capacity to promote all-round trade and economic cooperation and synergize the two sides’ respective development endeavors.
China’s opening-up has never been tailored to any specific region, but rather aimed at the country’s global integration. The 2021 China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS), held in Beijing in early September, bore witness to China’s pledge to further open up the country’s services sector and promote global cooperation toward economic recovery. The event also saw the registration of more than 12,000 enterprises from 153 countries and regions, a weighty 52 percent increase over the 2020 CIFTIS, according to the Ministry of Commerce (MOC). Chinese President Xi Jinping announced at the Global Trade in Services Summit of the 2021 CIFTIS an array of new measures aimed at heightening the country’s opening-up. They include implementation across the country of a negative list for cross-border services trade and exploring development of national demonstration zones with a view to innovative development of trade in services, among others.
While attending the opening ceremony of the plenary session of the sixth Eastern Economic Forum via video link on September 3, Chinese President Xi Jinping, a prominent champion at such multilateral events of multilateralism and pragmatic cooperation, called on countries in Northeast Asia to redouble efforts to advance mutually-beneficial cooperation, deepen collaboration between the Belt and Road Initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union, jointly tackle global climate change, and promote social and economic development in the region. And at the 13th BRICS summit President Xi raised, also via video link, China’s proposals on promoting pragmatic cooperation in the spirit of mutual benefit among the BRICS countries. They include establishing a forum on the development of industrial Internet and digital manufacturing, a BRICS high-level meeting on climate change, and a BRICS forum on big data for sustainable development, among others. Xi’s input added impetus to future BRICS cooperation.
At the bilateral level, Chinese President Xi’s phone conversation with his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden on September 10 drew global attention, something only to be expected in view of the importance of the bilateral relationship and its considerable bearing on the future of the world. As Xi said, “Getting the China-U.S. relationship right is not optional, but something the two sides must do, and do well.” When China and the United States cooperate, Xi added, the two countries and the world will benefit; when China and the United States are in confrontation, the two countries and the world will suffer. The two leaders agreed that in-depth communication on China-U.S. relations and major international issues is vital to steering bilateral ties in the right direction. On the same day, meanwhile, Xi also talked with another important state leader – German Chancellor Angela Merkel. During the past year, there have been frequent and effective exchanges between the two leaders that have played a decisive role in the progress of China-Germany and China-European Union (EU) relations and which testify to the mutual trust between the two countries. Xi observed that each side’s respect for one another is fundamental to the great achievements in China-Germany relations, along with seeking common ground while reserving differences, focus on win-win cooperation, and pursuit of complementarity between their respective advantages.
Embracing its 72nd birthday, China, under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, which just celebrated its centennial, appears ever more confident, inclusive, and open-minded, ready to work with the rest of the world in building a community with a share future for humankind.