•The country is improving the policies on entry and stay of foreign nationals in China
•The APEC region has stayed focused on development and continually deepened economic and technical cooperation
The 2023 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum was held in San Francisco, United States from November 15 to 17. Chinese President Xi Jinping gave a keynote address titled “Meeting Challenges with Unity of Purpose” in which he presented a roadmap for APEC’s way forward.
Xi noted that the inaugural APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting three decades ago during the Cold War enabled Asia-Pacific development and economic globalisation to embark on a fast track of growth, turning the region into a powerhouse for world economic growth, an anchor of stability for global development, and a pacesetter for international cooperation. He said that there is so much the world can draw from this remarkable journey of Asia-Pacific cooperation.
Openness and inclusiveness are the defining features of Asia-Pacific cooperation. Development in the region has been achieved by staying open and inclusive and drawing on each other’s strengths. APEC has stayed committed to open regionalism, jointly formulated the Bogor Goals and the Putrajaya Vision, promoted trade and investment liberalisation and facilitation, and bolstered economic integration of the region. Over the past three decades, the Asia-Pacific has contributed 70 percent of global economic growth.
Development is an eternal pursuit in APEC. The region has stayed focused on development and continually deepened economic and technical cooperation, thus strengthening the ability of developing members to achieve self-development. Over the past three decades, per capita income in the Asia-Pacific has more than quadrupled, and one billion people have been lifted out of poverty. This is an important contribution to human progress and global sustainable development.
Seeking common ground while shelving differences is the best practice of Asia-Pacific cooperation. Economies in the region have different histories and cultures and are in different stages of development.
Facing a new wave of scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation, APEC should jointly boost innovation and market application of scientific and technological advances, and push forward full integration of digital and physical economies. “We should jointly improve global governance of science and technology, bolster support for green and digital transition and sustainable development through innovation, and build an open, fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for the development of science and technology”, Xi said.
In recent years, in response to the pressing needs around the world, Xi has proposed the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative, and the Global Civilization Initiative. They are intended to galvanize all stakeholders to address global challenges, promote common development, and improve the well-being of humanity. China will work with all in the Asia-Pacific to advance and implement these initiatives, and build an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world of lasting peace, universal security and shared prosperity.
China enjoys distinct strengths such as a socialist market economy in systemic terms, a supersize market in terms of demand, a fully-fledged industrial system in terms of supply, and abundant, high-calibre labour forces and entrepreneurs in terms of human resources. China is committed to applying the new development philosophy with a focus on achieving innovative, coordinated, green and open development for all, and it is pursuing high-quality development and high value-added and green economic growth.
Recent years have seen rapid growth in China’s export of “the new three,” namely, new energy vehicles, lithium-ion batteries and photovoltaic products. China will expedite its efforts to modernize the industrial system, provide better institutional safeguards to enable business entities of all types to share in the gains of development, and foster new drivers of growth and create more room for development.
China remains committed to pursuing development with our doors open. It will unswervingly advance high-standard opening up and further expand market access. China has announced the removal of all restrictive measures on foreign investment in manufacturing. China is applying high standards to its implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.
It is working to align itself with the high-standard economic and trade rules of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement to advance the process of acceding to these two agreements, and expand a globally-oriented network of high-standard free trade areas.
In October, China hosted the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation with 458 deliverables. Chinese financial institutions established a financing window of RMB 780 billion for Belt and Road projects, and Chinese and foreign companies reached business deals worth USD 97.2 billion. All this will contribute to high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, and provide strong momentum for connectivity, development and prosperity around the world.
China will strive to tear down the barriers to the flow of innovation factors, deepen reform of the digital economy, and promote free and orderly flow of data in compliance with the law. The country will also take more “heart-warming” measures, such as improving the policies on entry and stay of foreign nationals in China and removing for them choke points in financial, medical, e-payment and other services. All this is designed to make it easier for foreign companies to invest and operate in China.
I wish to stress that Chinese modernization naturally calls for high-quality development by overcoming economic challenges and making steady progress. Its immutable goal is to deliver a better life to the whole of more than 1.4 billion Chinese people. For the world, this means a broader market and unprecedented cooperation opportunities. It will also instil strong impetus in the global modernisation endeavour.
Stephen Ndegwa is the Executive Director of South-South Dialogues, a Nairobi-based communications development think tank, and a PhD student at the United States International University-Africa