China’s leadership role in promoting global trade today is a continuation of the internationalization drive it started 40 years ago with the reform and opening-up policy, according to a senior academic in London.
Erik Berglof, director of the London School of Economics’ Institute of Global Affairs, said the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank are examples of China championing global trade, development and connectivity.
Berglof, who formerly worked as chief economist and special adviser to the president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, was speaking ahead of this year’s two sessions, which are expected to set the future strategic direction for China.
How China makes further reforms beyond 2018 is also expected to be an important topic.
Berglof said China is making a transition from its previous export-driven model to a more technology-led development. Within this new model, China’s role in the global economy will also grow.
“China is coming closer and closer to the frontier of technology across a large range of sectors. This contributes to efficiency and productivity globally,” Berglof said.
As advanced technology becomes a bigger contributor to China’s economic growth, it is likely to contribute more to global technological advancement. Berglof said: “It will become an important partner in developing new technology. China’s domestic market will also be important in creating demand for this technology.”
Berglof said China’s drive to achieve economic equality across the country and provide a better standard of living for the Chinese people is another significant element in this new stage of reform.
This year’s two sessions are the first since the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in October, which ushered in a new era for China and emphasized improving the Chinese people’s quality of life.
“There is now a fundamental change to the nature of the Chinese economy, with an increasing focus on providing better social welfare and better healthcare provisions and combating the country’s inequality challenges,” Berglof said.
Internationally, this same mentality of striving for more inclusive growth and creating a community with a shared future is already reflected in the advancement of the Belt and Road Initiative and the AIIB-driven development projects, which Berglof calls “open and collaborative”. He stressed that insuring collaborative development for the Belt and Road Initiative into the future is crucial for its credibility.
He added that China’s revision of the country’s Constitution is also important. “In particular, ensuring the right checks and balances within the new framework of the Constitution is important for China’s domestic development and international credibility,” he said.