Premier Li Keqiang arrived in Fujian province on April 22, one day after the State Council issued the plan on deepening reform and opening up of Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone and the official launch of China’s latest new FTZs.
So far, the “pilot free trade zone” promoted by Premier Li has been expanded to include more areas.
Premier Li’s visit to Fujian FTZ bears great significance given the widespread discussions on China’s economic statistics for this year’s first quarter and the growing downward pressure on the economy.
China needs greater reform and opening up to maintain stable economic growth, the Premier said, besides the toolkit of fiscal and financial policies.
Reform will bring the biggest dividends and opening-up will unleash huge vitality, he clearly stated.
You are “the pioneer” of reforms
After taking office as the Premier, Li has continuously pushed forward reforms on administrative streamlining and the transformation of government’s functions.
The FTZ, which he considers as “the highland of reforms”, is expected with high hope to be the “experimental field” of reform efforts.
Premier Li showed up in a comprehensive administration service center in Xiamen of Fujian Pilot Free Trade Zone on April 22 as soon as he got off the plane.
He showed great interest on reform measures that simplified the registration system.
Under the new measures, enterprises only need to apply for one license and one registration number from three departments, greatly simplifying what had been a cumbersome procedure.
“This will greatly facilitate market players as it is the most difficult part of commercial registration system reform,” he said.
“You should do a good job as the ‘pioneer’ of reforms and strive to implement the new measure across the country within this year.”
China launched the Shanghai FTZ in 2013 and now the program was being expanded to include Fujian, Tianjin and Guangdong this year. Li has visited all the four FTZs.
During the inspection, Premier Li said that the primary goal of FTZ is to facilitate the government to transform its functions.
“You should have the courage to undertake reforms and innovation. Today, I’m here to give you more encouragement,” he said.
Push reform through opening up
The Premier also expected the FTZ to “push reform through opening up”.
During a visit to a branch of the Industrial Bank in the Fujian Free Trade Zone on April 23, the Premier urged banks to lower fees, reiterating that banks should further rationalize charges to reduce financing costs for businesses and help them weather the slowdown in economic growth.
A customer told Premier Li that he only needs to pay less than 4 percent for interests and fees when he applies a loan from the Hong Kong branch of the bank through cross border finance, which is much lower than in mainland.
The Premier said that the aim of the FTZ is to push reform through opening up and opening up of cross border finance will help lower financing costs on the mainland.
A more powerful tool
The Premier’s visit also sent out a clear message that: reform and opening up is the most effective solution for China to tackle downward pressure facing the economy.
Premier Li has noted that there are still a lot of fiscal and financial policies that remain to be used in China’s toolkit.
“Moreover, we have a more powerful tool that the toolkit is unable to hold, that is, reform and opening up,” he said, adding that reform will bring the biggest dividends and opening-up will unleash huge vitality.
In fact, “reform and opening up” is also the theme of Premier Li’s rest schedule in Fuzhou.
Premier Li assured Taiwan corporate leaders on April 22 that existing preferential policies for Taiwan-invested companies will be continued during a seminar with some Taiwan business leaders investing in Fujian.
When visiting a bookstore at Xiamen University, the Premier advised the students to read every day and he said the classics of literature and the work of previous generations will broaden their horizons.
Premier Li also visited two companies in Quanzhou, encouraging the upgrade of traditional sectors and Chinese manufacturing.
The residence of Yan Fu, a well-known scholar and translator in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), is the last stop of Premier Li’s visit to Fujian.
The Premier said Yan was renowned for a global vision far ahead of his time and enlightened generations of Chinese by his translation of Western works.