China's astounding progress on paper and in the CIIE

By Harvey Dzodin
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, November 5, 2019
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A night view of the Lujiazui area in Shanghai, China, on Oct. 25, 2018. [Photo/Xinhua]

As a columnist and commentator, much of my time is spent keeping up with the latest developments in international relations and global commerce. 

I am drowning in information which varies widely in quality. An exceptional information source is as rare as a giant panda in the wild, so when I come across one, it's something to share. The white paper "China and the World in the New Era" issued by the State Council, China's cabinet, to coincide with People's Republic of China's 70th founding anniversary fits the bill. 

A few examples of the treasure trove of information contained in the white paper prove my point.

Many have heard that, in the four decades of reform and opening up, more than 800 million Chinese have been lifted out of poverty. Few however realize that this constitutes 70% of the world total over the same period. 

We learn that China's rural impoverished population was reduced 83% from 99 million in 2012 to 16.6 million in 2018, with a further reduction of 10 million expected this year. In the same period, the incidence of poverty dropped from 10.2% to 1.7%. 

Since the founding of the PRC, life expectancy increased from 35 to 77, five years over the global average and very close to that of the U.S. According to Boston Consulting Group's 2018 global well-being report, in the past decade, China rose 25 places in the global rankings, the fastest rate among 152 countries studied.

By November 2018, China had trade relations with more than 230 countries and regions. It had signed 17 free trade agreements with 25 of these, and joined almost all major international economic and financial organizations and multilateral economic mechanisms.

China's singular Belt and Road Initiative to promote free trade and openness was unveiled in 2013. It has received a widespread positive response. By the end of August, 195 Belt and Road cooperation documents had been signed with 136 countries and 30 international organizations. 

China has set up 18 pilot free trade zones. It has signed more than 100 customs inspection and quarantine cooperation documents and established more than 40 customs inspection and quarantine cooperation mechanisms. From 2013 to 2018, the imports and exports of goods between China and other Belt and Road countries totaled nearly $6.5 trillion. 

The idea of building a global community with a shared future draws on the essence of traditional Chinese culture and the achievements of human society overall, and reflects the interdependence among all countries and the close interconnection of all humanity. 

China's view is that this new model of international relations and economic cooperation should be built on the principles of mutual respect, equity and justice, and mutually beneficial cooperation.

Volunteers of the second China International Import Expo walk pass a poster at the National Exhibition and Convention Center in Shanghai, China, Nov. 3, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

In my view the best way to understand the country's dynamism and its continuing development – quantitatively and qualitatively – is this week's second edition of the China International Import Expo (CIIE). It demonstrates in both a people-to-people and an enterprise-to-enterprise way, China's incredible growth and its win-win orientation since the beginning of reform and opening up into today's New Era seeking partnership with others in the continued globalization of international commerce.

China unveiled the idea of holding the CIIE during the first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in May 2017. I attended last year's initial event, along with 800,000 others, and was overwhelmed by the enormity of it and how such a mammoth undertaking could come to fruition in a mere one-and-a-half years. 

I had previously attended the long-running Canton Fair in Guangzhou but was not prepared for CIIE's sheer scope. An astounding 172 countries and regions attended, over 3,000 enterprises participated, interacting with over 400,000 overseas and domestic buyers. Deals worth $57.8 billion were signed. 

This week's CIIE is bigger, better and promises to be even more productive.

And while much of the activity takes place at various booths, there is plenty more for overseas business men and woman to take in – seminars, banquets and the like. Shanghai will obviously impress, as will the orderly management of such an endeavor.

Taken together, the impressive white paper "China and the World in the New Era" and the equally impressive China International Import Expo, in their own different ways, provide vivid proof of China's astounding progress.

Harvey Dzodin is a senior fellow at the Center for China and Globalization.

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