Global spotlight will be shining on China early this month, as the Asian country is gearing up for the annual “Two Sessions” to explore the next-step solutions to its own development set to unleash tremendous potential on a global scale.
The fourth annual session of the 12th National People’s Congress (NPC), the country’s top legislature, and the fourth session of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China’s top political advisory body, will open on March 5 and March 3, respectively.
Experts said that this year’s gatherings, a precious window for global observers to look into China’s future policies when the world is struggling amid a weak recovery, are hence expected to garner more attentions both at home and abroad.
ECONOMIC RESTRUCTURING, CONSUMPTION-DRIVEN MODEL TO BRING OPPORTUNITIES
The forthcoming NPC session will see the debate and ratification of China’s draft 13th Five-Year Plan, with discussions focused on China’s further economic restructuring as a key part.
China’s top leadership announced in late February that China will step up supply-side structural reforms and green economy, and tap the potential of domestic demand. The world’s second largest economy is now shifting its dependence from investment and manufacturing to domestic demand and service industry.
The transition will help China evolve into a “more enduring engine for growth of demand,” observed Stephen Roach, a senior fellow at the US Yale University. “It is more conducive to the global sustainable growth.”
In fact, China’s structural adjustment has already reaped early results. Official data showed that consumption has accounted for two thirds of China’s 2015 growth, turning into a major powerhouse for the Chinese economy.
“This is a healthy and sustainable trend of change,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on his US trip in February.
Apple Pay on Feb 18 officially began to serve consumers in China, the first country in Asia that has access to the mobile payment solution provided by the US tech giant, which represented a glimpse of foreign companies’ interest in China’s tremendous consumer market due to its rising purchasing power.
As one of the few markets with robust growth, China is bound to bring greater opportunities to the rest of the world, Shlomo Maital, a senior research fellow with the Israel Institute of Technology.
The bonus of the rising purchase power has also gone beyond borders. Last year saw Chinese tourists make up 120 million outbound visits and spend over 1 trillion yuan (around 153 billion dollars) overseas. Reports and pictures of shoppers and travellers from the world’s second largest economy have frequently hit foreign headlines.
The elevation of the consuming power of the Chinese people, Roach said, will give a strong boost to the weak global economic recovery.
CLEAN, TRANSPARENT GOVERNANCE TO ENCOURAGE FOREIGN INVESTMENT
Over the past several years, the Chinese government has committed itself to a cleaner and more transparent governance, with an eye on creating a favorable and predictable environment for foreign investment.
At the upcoming Two Sessions, more light is expected to be shed on those efforts, which includes Beijing’s anti-graft campaign.
Analysts said the ongoing efforts have yielded tangible results and boosted foreign investors’ confidence in one of the world’s most dynamic markets.
“China’s anti-corruption drive, part of a rule of law initiative to stem losses of state assets and enhance clean governance and the confidence of foreign investors, has won recognition and support of the international society,” said Wang Yukai, professor with the Chinese Academy of Governance.
In its 2015 report, the Shanghai-based American Chamber of Commerce said that the problem of corruption has become a minor challenge for US companies doing business in China, which has dropped for two straight years to 13th place in the organization’s annual ranking.
The anti-corruption campaign has been fostering a fair environment of competition for the business community and lowered difficulties of doing business in the Asian country, said Jeorg Wuttke, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China.
Openness will be another key word during the Two Sessions when focus is shifted to China’s investment facilitation in years to come.
China’s Ministry of Commerce has been soliciting public opinion on a new foreign investment law that will ease restrictions on foreign investors and grant them easier access to the Chinese market.
Overseas companies will receive pre-establishment national treatment and the current troublesome case-by-case approval system will be replaced by “negative list” management, if the law is passed.
A more stable, transparent and predictable legal environment and a market environment that encourages fair competition will be China’s persistent attractions to foreign investors, said Doug Gurr, online retail giant Amazon’s China president.
WIN-WIN DIPLOMACY COMMITTED TO GLOBAL PROSPERITY
Last month, China vowed to prioritize a higher-level of opening up engagement to the world as part of its diplomatic agenda in the next few years, which will also be a hot topic in the forthcoming Two Sessions.
Experts predicted that the representatives will discuss the further implementation of such grand programs as the Belt and Road Initiative, so as to better share the fruit of China’s decades-long economic development with other countries, especially the developing ones.
The Belt and Road Initiative, with its name stemming from the world-known Silk Road that once connected Asia, Europe and Africa in ancient times, is aimed at enhancing connectivity among regions on land and by sea, and update the laggard infrastructure in Asia and Africa.
The initiative, by promoting the exchanges of capital, technology and high-quality production capacity among the countries along the ancient trade routes, will boost the economic and social development on the Eurasian and Africa continent, said Fu Ying, chairwoman of the NPC Foreign Affairs Committee.
The Belt and Road, which covers up to two fifths of the world’s continental area, has so far received more than positive responses from over 60 countries, some of which have already linked their development strategies with the China-proposed cross-region plan.
The Belt and Road will help developing countries get a greater say with a peaceful solution, said Severino Bezerra Cabral, director of the Institute of China and Asia Pacific Studies.
For example, Pakistan, a central Asian country along the ancient trade route, has long suffered from power shortage. During summer time, even its capital city Islamabad would be subject to power blackout up to 12 hours a day.
But thanks to the smooth implementation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a project likely to add over 25,000 megawatts of electricity capacity to the energy-starved country, Pakistan has the potential to be transformed into a thriving economy.
The world is looking forward to “the peaceful development of China” outlined in the Two Sessions, which “is to reshape a new type of international relations,” said Ibrahim Amari, political science professor of the University of Baghdad.