Upholding reform and opening-up amid changing intl situation
Published: Dec 19, 2023 06:02 PM
Illustration: Xia Qing/GT

Illustration: Xia Qing/GT

Monday marks the 45th anniversary of the beginning of China's reform and opening-up. China was the first socialist country to embark on the path of reform and opening-up, which required great courage. Today, the international situation has changed, yet China's continued commitment to reform and opening-up still requires immense courage and wisdom. 

The US and the West once supported China's reform and opening-up, but now the US is ganging up with other countries to contain China, leading to a deterioration in relations between China and its allies, and EU's "de-risking" mindset toward China. To some extent, all of this has squeezed China's space for opening-up and has also affected the external environment for China's internal reforms.

Today, it can be said that China's reform and opening-up is rising to the challenges, but there is no way back.

We need to sort out our thoughts. First, we must have confidence that China's reform and opening-up will definitely continue under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC). We must recognize that China is not North Korea, Iran or Russia. China is a huge and already a powerful presence in the world. With the central government's determination to adhere to the path of reform and opening-up, and with the whole of Chinese society following the Party's lead, the US and its allies cannot construct a practical blockade against China. 

Although the external strategic environment for our reform and opening-up is difficult, China's tremendous growth in its capabilities serves as a powerful counterbalance to these difficulties. China has transformed from a minor player in global strategy to one of the dominant forces in today's globalization. We now have unprecedented strategic initiative, which makes the overall prospects for reform and opening-up bright.

In other words, no force can contain China or force China to close itself off. Even the extreme political elites in the US cannot truly decouple the US from China. China belongs to the world, and we continue to develop and strengthen ourselves in the tide of globalization. This is China's choice, and it is also destined to be the way the world interacts with China.

Second, we need to objectively assess the pressure that the US-led containment of China has on our domestic governance. We must evaluate various risks without underestimating or exaggerating them. We must recognize that the desire and attempts of US and Western extreme political elites to disrupt China are indeed stronger than those of the past, but with the increasing confidence of Chinese society and the improvement of China's institutions, their channels, means and actual effects are shrinking. 

Chinese people as a whole no longer have blind faith in the US and the West as they once did. As the country becomes stronger and the people become relatively affluent, the overall horizon of Chinese society has improved, and we have developed, among grassroots, critical spirit toward many things from the US and the West. It can be said with certainty that now is the most difficult time for external forces to infiltrate and disrupt China. The continuous consolidation of consensus in Chinese society has created favorable conditions for bold reforms and high-quality opening-up.

We must prevent international risks from transforming into domestic social governance issues, especially tension and conservatism at the grassroots level. We must recognize that geopolitical risks can be dealt with by national strength, and their ability to transmit to domestic affairs is very limited. National security is of the utmost importance, but we must prevent the formalism of this issue from adding pressure to grassroots governance. We must also prevent this pressure from resonating with bureaucratic elements and causing stagnation at the grassroots level.

Third, reform and opening-up must be accompanied by the support of emancipation of mind and the active participation and responsibilities of officials at all levels. How to further promote reform and opening-up in a complex international environment is a new issue in itself, which requires the emancipation of mind and brave exploration. 

One problem now is that many officials have become overly cautious, constantly thinking about "avoiding trouble" and "making no mistakes." Many regions and sectors severely lack the mental and practical motivation provided by the new era of reform and opening-up, which has led to hollow slogans in some places, contradicting the central government's strategic vision for the new era of reform and opening-up.

The effectiveness of reform and opening-up will be verified by the achievements in economic and social development, as well as the improvement of people's lives. It will be summarized by the enhancement of the country's comprehensive strength and judged through the sustainability of political stability. 

Over the past 45 years, China has made impressive achievements. The face of the country has been reshaped in almost all fields, especially over the past decade, where progress has been earth-shattering and epoch-making. 

Although there have been storms along the way, the continuous enhancement of the country's comprehensive strength has provided ample power to overcome those storms, and the overall trend of a stronger and more secure China is constantly being consolidated. I believe that in the future, China will undoubtedly present an equally, if not more, impressive answer. We will respond to every risk and challenge of the new era with action.

The author is a media professional. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn