China's Ministry of Commerce, in charge of both domestic and foreign trade as well as international economic cooperation, began operations on March 25, 2003 to replace the decade-old Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation ("MOFTEC"). Under MOFTEC, China's foreign trade volume and influx of overseas investment surged as China joined the World Trade Organization. China's foreign trade turnover reached US$620.77 billion in 2002, more than three times the figure of 1993, when the turnover hit US$195.72 billion. China's exports grew more than 2.5 times from 1993 to 2002. The actual overseas investment in China was US$25.759 billion in 1993, compared with 52.743 in 2002.
In 1978 the Chinese government decided to implement a gradual opening-up policy while starting economic restructuring. Beginning from 1980, China established five special economic zones in Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Shantou in Guangdong Province, Xiamen in Fujian Province, and Hainan Province. In 1984 China further opened 14 coastal cities to the outside world, namely, Dalian, Qinhuangdao, Tianjin, Yantai, Qingdao, Lianyungang, Nantong, Shanghai, Ningbo, Wenzhou, Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Zhanjiang and Beihai. Starting from 1985 China listed the Yangtze River Delta, Pearl River (Zhujiang) Delta, South Fujian Triangle, Shandong Peninsula, Liaodong Peninsula, Hebei and Guangxi as the economic open areas, thus forming an open coastal economic belt. In 1990 the Chinese government decided to develop and open the Shanghai Pudong New Zone, and further open a number of cities along the Yangtze River, thus forming the Yangtze River Open Belt with Pudong as the leader. Since 1992 the Chinese government has opened a number of border cities and the capital cities of all the inland provinces and autonomous regions; set up 15 bonded zones, 49 state-level economic and technological development zones and 53 new- and high-tech industrial development zones in some large and medium-sized cities. Consequently China has formed an all-round, multi-level, wide-ranging opening-up setup integrating coastal regions, border regions, riverine regions and inland regions. As these areas adopt different preferential policies, they have served as windows and played the radiation role in developing export-oriented economy, generating foreign exchange earnings by exporting products and importing advanced technologies.