Commitment to an Open Economy
Chinese President Xi Jinping promised an “open, clean and green cooperation” with participating countries to attain win-win outcomes and sustainable development at the opening of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing.
“In pursuing Belt and Road cooperation, everything should be done in a transparent way, and we should have zero tolerance for corruption,” Xi said before 5,000 representatives from more than 150 countries, including 37 heads of state and government at the China National Convention Center.
Flows of commodities, capital, technology, and people were vital for economic growth, President Xi said, “The great rivers and oceans are deep because they are open to all trickles. If inflows of streams and rivers are cut off, even a big sea will dry sooner or later.”
China will continue to cut tariffs, lower non-tariff barriers and strive to be in line with existing systems of trade liberalization. He also promised to keep China’s currency stable, saying China will not engage in any "beggar-thy-neighbor" currency devaluation, will not resort to currency depreciation and will continuously improve the yuan exchange rate formation mechanism to keep the currency “basically stable at reasonable and balanced levels.” This top-level commitment to keep the yuan stable reinforces the view that China won't see continuous exchange-rate depreciation – a fear that had cropped up in 2015-16 and again in mid-2018.
Xi stressed that China pays high regard to the implementation of bilateral and multilateral economic and trade agreements it has signed with other parties. China does not intentionally seek trade surpluses, and the nation is willing to import more foreign agricultural products and services for more balanced trade. China will hold its second import expo in November in Shanghai, which will set up a significant platform for foreign businesses to enter the Chinese market. During his speech, Xi also pledged to strengthen intellectual property protection and prohibit forced technology transfers.
He emphasize that China is committed to a “co-development,” saying the Belt and Road Initiative is not only for China, but open to other nations' participation.
The forum, which run from April 25 to 27, saw Beijing present a "Belt and Road 2.0" with new projects and global partners, most recently adding its first G7 nation, Italy. Switzerland will soon join the list, as well. So far, 126 countries and 29 international organizations have signed cooperation agreements with China under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.
The author is executive secretary general of the Charhar Foundation.