China's 'charm offensive' for high-level opening-up confident, frank: Global Times editorial
Published: Mar 20, 2024 11:29 PM
Lingang New Area of Shanghai Free Trade Zone Photo: VCG

Lingang New Area of Shanghai Free Trade Zone Photo: VCG

China is vigorously implementing its commitment to advancing high-level opening-up to the outside world, and its attitude toward attracting and utilizing foreign investment and facilitating the entry of foreigners into China is very serious. This is very concretely reflected in the "Action plan to promote high-level opening-up and attract foreign investment" (referred to as the "Action Plan" hereafter) issued by the General Office of the State Council recently. In the face of the increasing complexity and severity of the external environment, the timing of the "Action Plan" is just right. It serves as a powerful counterbalance to pessimistic views of China and actions of building "small yard, high fence" with a positive and open attitude toward expanding opening-up.

This is a proactive and practical "Action Plan." The first sentence of the document is straightforward: "Foreign investment is an important force in helping to achieve Chinese modernization and promoting the common prosperity and development of the Chinese economy and the world economy." On increasing efforts to attract and utilize foreign investment, the "Action Plan" proposes 24 measures across five aspects, each of which is highly specific. The "Action Plan" also responds to and addresses many issues that foreign-invested enterprises have raised over time. This includes fully lifting restrictions on access to the manufacturing sector for foreign investment, supporting the flow of data between foreign-invested enterprises and their headquarters, and extending the validity of the visas for the management personnel, technical personnel, accompanying spouses, and minor children of foreign-invested enterprises to two years, among others. These measures fully embody the keyword "greater efforts" and vividly demonstrate China's firm determination and confidence in advancing high-level opening-up.

Not only the "Action Plan," but also China's related policies to expand high-level opening-up have been coming one after another since last year. The Wall Street Journal said this is China's "charm offensive" abroad. There's nothing to hide about it because China has its "charm." China's open policies are practical, appealing, and in line with the trend of economic globalization and trade liberalization. They benefit not only China but also the world. What's wrong with such a "charm offensive"? There are not too many similar "offensives" globally, but rather too few.

The style of the Chinese government is to seek truth and be pragmatic. In terms of attracting foreign investment and facilitating foreigners to come to China, we demonstrate "Chinese efficiency." For example, in recent years, mobile payments and ride-hailing services have developed rapidly in China, but some foreigners have found it inconvenient when they come to China. After relevant departments learned about the situation, they immediately conducted research and coordinated arrangements, solving issues such as difficulties in foreign bank card acceptance and complicated authentication procedures. Since the second half of last year, the "visa-free circle of friends" in China has continued to expand, leading to immediate results. The latest statistics show that the number of foreign visitors entering through Pudong International Airport has increased fivefold compared to the same period last year. The most intuitive feeling is that there are more foreigners on the streets. Western media also believe that some of the "pain points" issues faced by foreign companies and tourists in the past are being effectively addressed.

Objectively, the global economic recovery momentum is weak, and the US and the West are vigorously promoting the "decoupling" headwinds. The geopolitical situation is complex and volatile, and international capital tends to seek safety and hedge risks. In January of this year, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development released the Global Investment Trends Monitor, which showed that excluding a small number of conduit economies, global FDI flows were 18 percent lower. At this time, it is easy to turn to protectionism and isolate oneself, while persisting in high-level opening-up to the outside world requires courage and foresight. China is accelerating the pace of high-level opening-up to the outside world, which is not only a counterbalance to anti-globalization, but also a counterbalance to the claims badmouthing the Chinese economy. When some people attempt to set the tone, the silent majority may be observing, which requires a stronger force than the countercurrent to bring global attention back to the normal track, and China is that force. Based on the effects seen over a period of time, our measures have been proven effective, external enthusiasm has been mobilized, and China remains a hot land for foreign investment and business development. Data shows that the number of newly established foreign-funded enterprises in China increased by 39.7 percent last year. China's determination to expand high-level opening-up will not change, nor will its determination to share development opportunities with the world. The next "China" will still be China. For those who persist in viewing China negatively, the embarrassing scene of another inaccurate prediction seems likely. We have a specific suggestion: Why not take a look at the US State Department's ongoing travel warning against China? It is a real "roadblock" for Americans who want to visit China. It would be better to cancel it sooner rather than later.