China’s opening-up agenda won’t be derailed by epidemic

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/2/18 20:22:52

Workers assemble subway trains for the Orange Line Metro of Pakistan's Lahore on the production line at a plant in Zhuzhou, Central China's Hunan Province. File photo: IC

The impact of novel coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19) won't change China's long-term economic fundamentals, nor will it deprive the country of its comprehensive competitive advantages in attracting foreign investment. In fact, the progress of China's opening-up to the world will accelerate rather than stagnate in the future.

In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, China will likely slow its pace of overseas expansion and instead pay more attention to the stability of its domestic economy, as various resources will be redirected to supplement the domestic market and revitalize the overall economy. Such a shift in focus won't conflict with its opening-up progress as further opening-up should be complementary to the formation of a strong domestic market, which is crucial for the stability of the economy.

In recent years, the huge domestic market has been the source of continuous momentum and steady growth expectations for the Chinese economy, even in the face of persistent downward pressure both at home and abroad. Now, whether or not China can achieve its economic growth targets, like building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, still hinges on the stabilization of the domestic market amid the epidemic.

When it comes to promoting economic recovery, further opening-up is of great significance for domestic market development. In this sense, China still needs to cultivate and explore the potential of its market to attract inflows of overseas investment and products, particularly from countries along the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). In January, China's actual use of foreign capital, excluding investment in the financial sector, reached $12.68 billion, up 2.2 percent year-on-year. Investment from Singapore surged 40.2 percent, South Korea 157.1 percent and Japan 50.2 percent, while investment from countries along the BRI jumped 31.3 percent.

While the Chinese economy may take a hit from the epidemic in the short term, there may be new opportunities brewing during the recovery process.

For instance, financial regulators are generally expected to roll out more monetary easing policies to support the real economy, which may include more measures to further open up the country's insurance, banking and securities sectors.

Various local governments have issued rules to help companies stay afloat during this difficult time and, according to Foreign Investment Law, foreign-invested companies can benefit from the same support policies as Chinese companies in terms of rent exemptions, tax deferrals and tax preferences.

All in all, China should continue to accelerate its opening-up progress, which will not conflict with its focus on stabilizing the domestic market. In fact, opening-up dividends and a stable market are essential to ensuring its economy stays afloat during this turbulent time.


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