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  • Reflections on 40th anniversary of China's opening up
    2018-08-29    author:

    Shantou, Guangdong province [Photo/Xinhua]

    This year marks the 40th anniversary of China's opening up to the world. After more than two decades of involvement with my Chinese colleagues and friends, my overriding impression of the amazing progress achieved is that China has benefited greatly from leadership focused upon long term thinking. 

    Economic and social development

    Over the last 40 years, China has become the world's manufacturer. It is also the world's leader in infrastructure development. These and related developments have enabled China in an incredibly short time to bring almost a billion people out of poverty. China since 2009 has been the world's largest exporter and now is the second largest economy in the world. At its current rate of growth, it will pass the U.S. to become the world's largest economy by 2030.

    China's state-owned enterprises (SOEs) have always played a major role in the country's economic development. The SOEs have great economic and political power and their reform has been a key to China's prosperity and increased competitiveness. They have also been the major investors in developing trade links and making investments in key markets around the world. 

    Reflecting its future focus and potential, China is also a leading country in E-commerce with almost a billion people connected to the internet and M-commerce with over a billion utilizing mobile phones. Utilizing developments in the cloud and greater connectivity through the "Internet of Things" and taking advantage of its excellent infrastructure, China has created a vigorously competitive marketplace for new ideas, new business models and innovation. In E-government, too, China has been proactive in using social media to engage with and provide services to citizens.

    Legal reform

    China's progress over the last 40 years would not have been possible without substantial and continual reform in all areas including its legal system. In terms of its economic development, China has substantially modernized and reformed its commercial laws governing contracts, corporations, competition, consumer protection, intellectual property, etc. These developments have helped to promote entrepreneurship within China as well as making China attractive to foreign investors. Just one of many indicators of this progress is the fact that China's patent and design registrations today rank among the highest in the world. China's literary and creative output (films, music, drama, art, computer games, etc.) have risen dramatically and become major exports as the rest of the world has taken a much greater interest in China. It is no wonder that China is now committed to stronger protection of intellectual property. 

    Also significant is China's commitment to becoming a world leader in key 21st century industries such as e-commerce, artificial intelligence, robotics, big data analytics, green technologies, autonomous driving vehicles, space exploration/commercialization, nanotechnology and bio-tech. These and other developments have been greatly facilitated by significant legal reforms, for example, in the enforceability of e-contracts, digital signatures, creation of specialized intellectual property courts, privacy protection, internet security and consumer protection.