Import expo epitome of China’s new global role

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Source: Global Times

Decorations of the 3rd China International Import Expo (CIIE) are seen at the west entrance of the National Exhibition and Convention Center (Shanghai) in east China’s Shanghai, Oct. 23, 2020. (Xinhua/Fang Zhe)

The third China International Import Expo (CIIE) kicked off in Shanghai on Wednesday. Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech that highlighted the importance of the joint efforts for the world to promote mutual opening up that features shared benefits. It is ill-advised to pursue unilateral dominance, or choose to hurt others’ interests, which diminishes one’s own interests in the face of increased instability and uncertainty in the world economy.

As unilateralism and protectionism gradually undermine the international order, China has been more proactive shouldering its responsibilities as a major power and providing more public goods to the world. The CIIE is a demonstration of China’s efforts to promote globalization and build an open world economy.

China’s increasingly active presence in promoting globalization also represents a shift in China’s role in the world economy. China used to be a peripheral member of the US-led global economic system. Now China is making more contributions to the public good by sharing with the world. Examples of this include the Belt and Road Initiative, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, currency swaps and the internationalization of the RMB. Though it is still at an early stage in this transition, it is already showing some good signs.

After the 2008 financial crisis, the US government started to adopt an exclusive and unfriendly attitude toward China. This was a peculiar move because China is an important partner in the world economic system. Yet the US continued its dominance by imposing a technical blockade on China and demanding a sharp and rapid reduction of its trade deficit with China.

In fact, it is the unwillingness of the US to provide public goods, to accept trade deficits and to share technology that makes globalization more difficult to continue.

The holding of the CIIE demonstrates that China is no longer an export-oriented country. It is now willing to open its doors wide and buy from everyone. In the future, China will achieve a trade balance and even might run a slight deficit in some years. To use a metaphor: Just as the US used to emit heat as if a sun for other countries to absorb, China will also gradually start emitting heat in the near future as its own star.

In the context of insufficient and ineffective demands plus oversupply in the globe, China is no longer seen as a mercantilist. China is willing to become a provider of public goods to other countries, in terms of both trade and public health. It is not out competing for shares of an ever smaller cake. Through CIIE, China displays its image as a great power with this fresh round of high-level opening-up measures.

Hundreds of enterprises from many countries proactively participated in this year’s CIIE. Even with the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the scale of this exhibition still expanded. This signals that the CIIE will provide an attractive platform for worldwide companies to display their products and technologies.

China has an enormous domestic market. President Xi noted that the Chinese market has the world’s biggest potential, with 1.4 billion people and more than 400 million middle-income earners. China is estimated to import some $22 trillion worth of products in the next decade. China will play a crucial role in promoting globalization as it embraces opening-up and cooperation measures. It also opposes any move to pursue unilateralism and zero-sum games.

In addition, populism is being fueled by the widening gap between the rich and the poor – surging in the US and Europe. The progress of globalization rests on prominent economies, such as China, the Europe Union and the US, to maintain the rules of global governance, shoulder public accountability and secure the international order. Maintaining openness is the key to safeguarding globalization, international peace and order, as well as common prosperity. When benefiting from a peaceful, prosperous and open system, these key economies should share corresponding responsibilities.

The article was compiled by Global Times reporter Wan Lin based on an interview with Di Dongsheng, deputy dean of the School of International Studies at Renmin University of China. [email protected]

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