Scholars' views

Riding on Momentum to Create a New Height for Opening-Up (Open Interview)

On June 1, 2020, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council issued the Master Plan for the Construction of Hainan Free Trade Port. Over the past year, under the guidance of the Master Plan and learning from other free trade pilot sites, Hainan has achieved good results by aiming at the goal of building the world's highest level of free trade port and free trade zone.

With its unique geographical location, Hainan is not only the largest special economic zone in China but also enjoys the unique advantage of comprehensively deepening reform and testing the highest level of opening-up policy. Building a free trade port in Hainan is a fundamental requirement for promoting a high-level opening-up and establishing a new system of the open economy; an urgent need to deepen market-oriented reform and build a legalized, internationalized, and business-friendly environment; a strategic choice to implement the new development concept, promote high-quality development and build a modern economic system; and a practical action to advance economic globalization and build a community of common future for mankind.

Within just one year, Hainan, under the guidance of the Master Plan, has boosted the trade liberalization in goods and services and significantly facilitated investments. Hainan has bravely attempted to facilitate capital projects, promoted the free flow of labor, especially skilled personnel, and improved transportation facilitation, all of which have laid a solid foundation for a new height of opening-up. For example, the implementation of the opening up of the front line and the regulation of the second line as well as the free and facilitated institutional arrangement featured by zero tariffs has taken a lead in promoting the rapid development of Hainan's economy. From January to April this year, the newly established foreign-invested enterprises in Hainan have increased by 443.12% year-on-year; provincial fixed asset investment has increased by 22.6% year-on-year; total retail sales of consumer goods in the province is 76.233 billion yuan, increased by 57.9% year-on-year; cargo throughput of major ports is 67.3373 million tons, increased by 10.6% year-on-year; and total business volume of post services is 1.049 billion yuan, increased by 25.5% year-on-year.

At present, the pillars of the trade and investment policy system for Hainan Free Trade Port have been initially established, and a series of policy measures and institutional arrangements have formed in the financing conditions, logistics environment, personnel flow, and other aspects. As an institutional innovation implemented on the basis of the draft Hainan Free Trade Port Law, it fully demonstrates the superiority of the socialist market economy with Chinese characteristics.

To build a new height by riding on momentum, we must firmly adhere to the direction and target given by the Master Plan for all necessities in one blueprint.

On the one side, we shall follow the principle of planning at a high starting point and construction with high standards, emancipate our minds, and be bold in innovation. To build the Hainan Free Trade Port into a distinctive flag leading China's opening up in the new era and an important gateway for opening up, we must persevere in promoting reforms. The Master Plan has made explicit stipulations on special areas under customs supervision that feature independent customs operations throughout Hainan Island. Only by firmly adhering to the principle of opening up the front line, regulating the second line well and keeping free in the island, can we effectively withstand external risks, challenges, and pressures in the experimental field.

On another side, an institutionalized and operable fault-tolerant mechanism should be established. The construction of Hainan Free Trade Port shoulders the arduous task of deepening reform and opening up under the new development pattern. Since it is a pilot project, it is hard to avoid setbacks and various difficulties. It should be noted that it is not a bad thing to find problems in the test field. As long as we stick to principles, uphold integrity and make innovations, and promptly sum up experience and lessons, we can create more favorable conditions for the independent customs operation throughout Hainan Island and maximize Hainan's unique role in opening up.

Well begun is half done. The year-long practice of the Master Plan has not only ushered a good start for the construction of Hainan Free Trade Port but also infused new positive energy into China's high-level opening-up. Hainan will give us an even more expected future.

Source: Our official account of the International Economics and Trade Department

Source: People's Daily Overseas Edition, June 8, 2021, page 6