Ning Jizhe, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), and Li Xiaohong, vice-minister of education, were invited to talk about the new guideline on further opening-up and attracting foreign investment and the national plan on educational development for the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020), both of which were passed by the State Council executive meeting on Dec 28, during the State Council policy briefing on Dec 30.
Ning introduced the guideline on further opening-up and attracting foreign investment, saying that utilization of foreign investment is an important part of China’s opening-up policy. Since the reform and opening-up policies were introduced, China has been continuously improving the level of opening-up, promoting investment facilitation and improving the investment environment, gradually becoming one of the main destinations of multinational investment. As of November 2016, China had attracted a total of $1760 billion in foreign investment. And since 2008, China has been ranking among top three in the world in attracting foreign investment, which has played a positive role in the country’s economic development and efforts in deepening reform.
To further utilize foreign investment, the NDRC and related departments jointly issued the notice on expanding opening-up and actively utilizing foreign investment, which contains 20 measures for further advancing opening-up, creating a fair environment for market competition, and attracting foreign capital. The guideline stressed fair competition among all forms of economic ownership, equal treatment for foreign investors, as well as relaxed access for foreign investment.
Li said that the education sector in China has entered a new stage of improving quality, optimizing structure and promoting equality in the 13th Five-year Plan period. The national plan on education development during this period, adopted by the State Council executive meeting on Dec 28, put forward six strategic tasks including driving the development of education with reform and innovation, adjusting educational structure, building a favorable environment, expanding international cooperation and enhancing educational fairness.
Equal treatment of foreign investors
The guideline passed by the State Council puts more emphasis on promoting a fair investment environment both before and after businesses’ admission in the market, in an effort to present equal opportunities to both foreign and domestic enterprises.
It includes seven measures which require that all the enterprises should go through a consistent approval and application procedure, standardize their production and operation, equally participate in government purchases, and protect intellectual properties while boosting fairness in both financing channels and registration capital system.
New measures to improve the level of opening-up
In the industry fields, the government will revise the Foreign Investment Guidance Catalog and related investment laws and regulations to relax the access of foreign investment in sectors such as service, manufacturing and mining.
Support will be provided to foreign investors to participate in the national strategies such as “Made in China 2025” and innovation-driven development strategy. Supportive policies from the “Made in China 2025” can be applied to the foreign companies the same as domestic ones. Foreign businesses will be encouraged to invest in advanced high-end, smart, and green manufacturing, industrial design and modern logistics.
Foreign investment will be encouraged to be involved in China’s regional development strategies, such as the western development, revitalization of China’s central and northeast regions. The development of “Belt and Road Initiatives” also needs the access of foreign capitals.
As for the methods to attract foreign investment, the government will support foreign investors to participate in the construction of infrastructures. They will be allowed to enter the fields of energy, transportation, water conservancy, environmental protection and municipal public engineering through franchising according to laws and regulations.
Rising foreign investment
Although the growth rate of foreign investment is slowing down, it is still high, Ning Jizhe said. From January to November, foreign investment that China attracted had surpassed $100 billion, rising 3.9 percent compared with last year.
Chinese government is taking steps to improve business environment. And China is still one of the most attractive investment destinations in the world, he said. Research by American Chamber China showed that 68 percent of its member companies would like to expand investment in China.
Imbalance in job market
There is imbalance of supply and demand of college graduates in job market, Li Xiaohong said. The government will push to restructure higher education, which is a significant strategy in the coming five years.
First, some colleges will be encouraged to change themselves to application-oriented ones, to meet the demand of various industries. Now nearly 200 colleges are trying the reform.
Second, improve vocational education. The government will try to train more technicians that market needs urgently, by encouraging vocational schools to cooperate with enterprises so as to create more jobs for their graduates.
Third, reform curriculum. Liberal arts education should be connected with professional education.
Promote education equality
Li introduced three measures that the government will take to promote education equality. First, the government is to ensure a solid compulsory education with a goal that 95 percent students will enjoy a complete nine-year compulsory education by 2020, compared with 93 percent in 2015.
Second, more investment will be made to the education in less-developed regions, including Central and Western China, remote places, and some rural areas. Rural teachers will get more support, as well as high schools and preschool education.
Third, protect the education rights of students from poor families, disabled children and the “left-behind” children of migrant workers.
Enhance teachers’ integrity
The government will conduct more training on teachers’ integrity, attract more top-class talents to serve as teachers. And an evaluation system on teachers’ integrity will be set up to punish those having misconduct.