China debates economic opening policy

Chinese public opinion has raised a debate about the choice of continuing to close or open the economy, after nearly three years of pursuing the “No Covid” strategy.

Chinese public opinion has been stirred up recently with a social media debate between two leading academics about the country’s next economic policy.

Wen Tiejun, 71, a well-known expert on agricultural and rural policy, said that China should promote a “people-oriented” economy by promoting economic autonomy, meeting all needs. of the people with domestic resources and opposes globalization.

Mr. Wen’s views were immediately criticized by investors and advocates of China’s economic reform, most notably Xiang Songzu, a famous economist who worked at Renmin University. People of China (RUC) in Beijing.

Xiang, a former chief economist of the Agricultural Bank of China (ABC), posted an article on the social network WeChat, saying that Mr. Wen’s proposals were no different from “shut down self-sufficiency” and basically It will “erase China’s four decades of reform and opening up”.

China has been closed to the world for nearly three years, when it implemented a strict “No Covid” policy, aimed at identifying and preventing all infections in the community with drastic tracing and blockade measures. and limit cross-border travel.

Premier Li Keqiang said in March that the Chinese government would continue with its reform and opening-up policy, “just as the flow of the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers will not be reversed”.

However, in the context that China’s economy is on a downward trend and the world situation has many complicated developments, whether this country continues its policy of closing down, or resumption of trade activities, international exchanges is becoming increasingly difficult. is a question of increasing interest, according to Wang Xiangwei, editor-in-chief SCMP based in Hong Kong.

President Xi Jinping during an online exchange with President Vladimir Putin in Beijing in December 2019.  Photo: Reuters.

President Xi Jinping during an online exchange with President Vladimir Putin in Beijing in December 2019. Image: Reuters.

According to Wang, who has followed China’s economic and political situation for many years, this is why a recent commentary on China’s past “closed-door” policy has attracted attention. public opinion at home and abroad, because it raises public concerns about Beijing’s policy direction.

Post titled A new perspective on the policy of seclusion under the Ming and Qing dynasties, published in the “History Studies” journal of the Chinese Academy of History in June, which argues that Chinese dynasties from the 16th to 19th centuries did not pursue a policy of complete self-isolation. as everyone imagined before. Instead, the authors argue that the Chinese dynasties adopted a policy of “self-limitation” to protect the interests and sovereignty of the country, in order to avoid Western invasions.

The article argues that this self-limiting policy of border opening is “historically appropriate”, even though they affect China’s development, as leaders refuse to accept current technology and weapons. great of the West.

After being shared on social media by the Chinese Academy of History recently, the nearly 15,000-word article went viral, sparking fierce debate about the perspective expressed in it, as well as its commitment to improving the quality of life. way, opening China’s door.

Some critics said that the article “deliberately excuses” the policy of seclusion of the Ming and Qing dynasties, making China less developed. Some even speculated that this is a sign that China may be considering its open-door policy at such a critical time.

Meanwhile, proponents of this theory argue that China’s No Covid policy, which shuts down much of the country to the rest of the world, can be seen as a test to test its resilience. recovery of the Chinese economy.

The open-door policy, implemented by the late leader Deng Xiaoping 40 years ago, paved the way for China to develop strongly, becoming the world’s second-largest economy and the world’s largest commodity-trading nation.

Top Chinese leaders, including President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, have repeatedly stated that the country will not close down, but will open up more to the outside world.

But in recent years, Mr. Xi has repeatedly emphasized self-reliance and self-sufficiency when it comes to economic and technological development, while promoting a dual-circulation economy that is less dependent on technology. and foreign consumption.

The inward trend of the Chinese economy comes amid rising geopolitical and trade tensions with the United States, which is strategically competing with China and imposing export restrictions on technologies and equipment. important to this country, including semiconductors.

Xi also issued a series of domestic policies, including a commonwealth policy and tightened regulation in areas ranging from technology to private education, mainly targeting non-state enterprises.

Meanwhile, China also reduced interaction and contact with the rest of the world during the implementation of the “No Covid” policy. These developments make many people think that Beijing is tending to withdraw, turning inward instead of opening to the outside, according to Mr. Wang Xiangwei.

Xi has repeatedly affirmed that China will continue to maintain its “No Covid” strategy. However, China’s leadership has recently shown signs that the country is resuming contacts with the world.

After nearly three years without leaving China, Xi arrived in Kazakhstan on September 14 for a three-day tour of Central Asia. He also attended the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit and met with a host of foreign leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Chinese president is also expected to attend the G20 leaders summit in Bali in November.

At the opening ceremony of the Communist Party of China’s congress on October 16, Xi is expected to deliver an important policy speech that outlines China’s strategic priorities for the next five years or so. important direction for the economy, as well as policies to cope with the deterioration of international relations, promote common prosperity and restore economic growth.

Xi’s speech will be of great interest, as Chinese investors and businesses await major policy changes amid uncertainty. China’s economy this year may grow below 3%, much lower than the set target of 5.5%, due to the influence of anti-epidemic measures and complicated developments in the international arena, especially. especially the Ukraine crisis.

“China’s leaders will have to take concrete actions to make their commitment to reform and opening up clearer, and help ease the anxiety that has been expressed in the debate about the ‘closed-door’ policy. in the past,” said Wang Xiangwei.

Thanh Tam (Theo SCMP)

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