Chinese and US flags flutter near the Bund before the US Trade Delegation meets its Chinese counterparts for negotiations in Shanghai, China on July 30, 2019.
Aly Song | Reuters
BEIJING – As the Chinese authorities prepare to build their country in the coming years, they are eager to ensure that the rest of the world will still do business with them.
At a high-level press conference on Friday, central government officials stressed the need for other countries to cooperate with China amid growing global uncertainty from the coronavirus pandemic and protectionism. The media event comes as China̵
In particular, officials pushed back toward “decoupling” or a complete separation of the U.S. and Chinese economies that President Donald Trump’s administration has envisioned, beginning with technology. Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei has been severely hampered by U.S. restrictions for the past two years.
“Decoupling is fundamentally unrealistic, and there is no benefit to China or the United States or the world,” said Han Wenxiu, deputy director of the Office of the Central Committee on Financial and Economic Affairs. That is according to a CNBC translation of his Mandarin-language remarks.
“Those who want decoupling are few. Those who want cooperation are far more,” he said, noting that the United States and China are only capable of being the world’s two largest economies as they complement each other and operate in one open global environment.
The United States is China’s largest trading partner, but the two countries have been locked in tensions for more than two years. Each government has levied tariffs on goods worth hundreds of billions of dollars from the other country. Critics say the state’s dominance in China’s economy gives it unreasonable advantages over US companies and other foreign companies.
Economists expect China to become the world’s largest economy in the next few years, surpassing the United States. In an effort to reduce economic dependence on debt-driven investments and the manufacture of goods for export, China has sought to increase its dependence on domestic consumption.
Foreign trade still accounts for about 30% of China’s gross domestic product, according to Han, who noted a decline from 60% earlier.
“Looking ahead, China’s imports and exports, the use of foreign capital and the volume of investment abroad will expand, and international status will increase,” he said. “This is also an important feature of a large country’s economy.”
‘Self-confidence’ in technology
He and four other central government officials spoke a day after the release of preliminary details of a 2021 to 2025 economic development plan, also known as the 14th Five-Year Plan. This week’s meeting of the Central Committee of China’s ruling Communist Party also discussed goals for the year 2035.
The meeting stressed China’s need to pursue “self-confidence” in technology as a strategy for national development, according to state media. The country has accelerated its own development of critical technologies such as semiconductors and a navigation system to compete with the US Global Positioning System (GPS).
Again, while describing China’s need to pursue a new phase of development, officials were quick to point out how the country needed to learn from international expertise.
“China’s technological innovation has never been a closed innovation, and in the future it will not close its doors to innovation on its own,” Science and Technology Minister Wang Zhigang told a news conference on Friday, according to a CNBC translation of his Mandarin remarks. .
The goal is to build a ‘modern’ society
In the 2035 target release, China’s leaders said they would focus on building a “modern socialist China” that includes modernizing national defense and the military.
The emphasis on “modern” comes after the ruling party said Thursday that it will fundamentally live up to its promise to build a “moderately prosperous society” by next year when the Chinese Communist Party celebrates its 100th anniversary.
The announcement also said that Beijing expects GDP to be 100 trillion yuan (about $ 14.9 trillion) this year, which would indicate an increase of at least 0.9% from the level of 2019. In the longer term, authorities said, that China aims to become “a strong country in culture, education, talent, sport and health.”