Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Shanghai for two consecutive days on November 28 and 29. This is Xi Jinping’s first visit to Shanghai since 2021. Chinese official media emphasized in reports that Xi Jinping asked Shanghai to “be a vanguard of reform and opening up nationwide.” In addition, in April this year, Xi Jinping emphasized during an inspection in Guangdong that China’s reform and opening up will remain unchanged for a long time, which has caused the outside world to re-focus on the prospects of this policy. Raise hope.
Some observers believe that China’s economic situation is grim and the so-called “reform and opening up remain unchanged” is just a stop-gap measure by Xi Jinping.
During his stay in Shanghai, Xi Jinping inspected the Shanghai Futures Exchange and the Shanghai Science and Technology Innovation Achievements Exhibition to learn about Shanghai’s efforts to enhance its competitiveness as an international financial center, promote the construction of an international science and technology innovation center, and construct affordable rental housing.
According to China’s official Xinhua News Agency, Xi Jinping has visited Shanghai six times since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. His trip focused on in-depth research on finance, technology and people’s livelihood work, and released several signals: first, finance must better serve the real economy; second, the key to Chinese-style modernization lies in scientific and technological modernization; third, urban construction must adhere to people-centeredness.
Shanghai is the bridgehead of China’s reform and opening up
Commander, a Chinese finance scholar in Australia, told VOA that Xi Jinping’s visit to Shanghai is of great symbolic significance. The commander said: “Shanghai is a bridgehead for China’s reform and opening up, and it is also China’s economic center. Foreign capital has always played a key role in this city. Therefore, Xi Jinping’s visit to Shanghai this time has a symbolic significance that is obviously greater than its actual significance. I think It is necessary to declare to the outside world that whether the Chinese government uses foreign investment or truly creates a good development environment for foreign investment, the outside world is observing the extent to which it is truly realized and how many years the effect will last.”
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone. Shanghai also held the sixth CIIE in early November. Analysts believe that in the context of China’s slow economic recovery after the epidemic, Xi Jinping will emphasize the importance of reform, opening up and the private economy to boost Public confidence in reform and opening up and China’s economic prospects.
Xinhua News Agency’s report also emphasized that “continue to be a vanguard of national reform and opening up and a pioneer in innovation and development” is Xi Jinping’s consistent requirement for Shanghai.
Before Xi Jinping’s visit to Shanghai, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China once again mobilized to rescue private enterprises. On November 27, eight departments including the People’s Bank of China and the State Administration of Financial Supervision jointly proposed 25 specific measures to support the private economy, including increasing investment in credit resources, requiring banking financial institutions to formulate annual service targets for private enterprises, and also proposed, “reasonable Improve the tolerance of non-performing loans of private enterprises.”
Financial scholar Xiang Xiang said that this obviously has a lot to do with China’s economic sluggishness. The commander said: “The use of foreign capital to develop China’s own private economy has a controversial role for China in building a well-off society and developing so-called socialism with Chinese characteristics. It is obvious that Xi Jinping is now leaning towards pragmatism. doctrine, so that China’s economy will not fall into a deep recession, and social unrest, serious regression and poverty that threaten the stability of the Chinese Communist Party’s ruling regime will not occur. This is the important reason why reform and opening up has been raised to a strategic position again. s reason.”
Xi Jinping’s New Year’s message did not mention reform and opening up at all
The reform and opening up led by Deng Xiaoping profoundly changed China’s economic landscape and, to a certain extent, also changed China’s political ecology. However, in 2022 and 2023, Xi Jinping broke with convention in his New Year’s greetings for two consecutive years and did not mention a word about reform and opening up. At that time, some observers believed that reform and opening up were inconsistent with Xi Jinping’s philosophy. As he gradually strengthened his personal control over the party and the party over the country, reform and opening up had ceased to exist in name only.
The commander said: “I think Xi Jinping is naturally a conservative. It is obvious that this kind of establishment, in the name of various anti-monopoly, has beaten the entire private economy of China to pieces, and foreign-funded enterprises have also been attacked by him. Scared away. His innovative activities and economic vitality are contrary to the development of high-tech and the free market economy in today’s world.”
Just when the outside world was convinced that reform and opening up had come to an end, in April this year, when Xi Jinping inspected Guangdong, he emphasized that “China’s reform and opening up will remain unchanged for a long time and will never close the door to opening up on its own.”
Does Xi Jinping sincerely support reform and opening up?
In an exclusive interview with Voice of America, American financial commentator Cai Shenkun said that even if China can continue reform and opening up, it does not mean that Xi Jinping truly supports this policy. Cai Shenkun said: “Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao both held high the banner of reform and opening up, but Xi Jinping’s generation is resistant to Deng’s reform and opening up, and is emotionally unwilling to accept Deng Xiaoping’s reform and opening up banner again. He is unwilling to make a fair and correct evaluation of reform and opening up. This is very important. Even if he wants to return to the path of reform and opening up, he is unwilling to position himself as taking over Deng Xiaoping’s baton.”
In recent years, Chinese authorities have implemented crackdowns on technology and Internet giants in the name of antitrust. During the epidemic, Xi Jinping demanded that China insist on zeroing out the epidemic at all costs. Cai Shenkun said that there is reason to believe that Xi Jinping was forced by the situation to express his support for reform and opening up.
Cai Shenkun said: “Last year’s cleanup and city lockdown seemed to us to be very strict. No one or any official dared to object or question it. If you object or question it, you will be taken down immediately. That means that he will not implement it. order. But we saw a clean slate campaign put an end to a movement that he had absolutely no admission of wrongdoing at the time.”
Cai Shenkun said that no matter how loud the slogans are, if targeted measures are not taken, it will be difficult to restore people’s confidence in the economy and the future. Cai Shenkun said: “Once again, it is necessary to reiterate that private property is sacred and inviolable, and it is necessary to write this article into the constitution and the party constitution. A series of policies introduced this year are actually very harmful to the economy, including anti- The Espionage Law, including the National Security Law implemented in Hong Kong, has great harm and impact on politics and the economy, and will also shake people’s confidence in the future. If he continues the totalitarian and one-word model of the past politically, He continues to tilt the cake to interest groups. This kind of reform and opening up has no value at all to the people. Xi’s priority now is to solve the problem of state advancement and private retreat, and let all state-owned enterprises withdraw from competitive industries and service fields. .”
The commander, a financial scholar, speculated that maintaining the unchanged reform and opening up was Xi Jinping’s “expedient measure.” The commander said: “This expedient measure may continue into the medium term. For example, China will continue to open up during the ’14th Five-Year Plan’ and the ’15th Five-Year Plan’, that is, within five or six years. The Chinese authorities will observe, Will this opening up allow China’s economy to completely stabilize and rebound? Back to the time of Hu and Wen, there was still a very strong driving force for development, and the GDP growth rate was still above double digits, because only in this way can China’s most pressing pressing needs be solved. That is the problem of economic downturn. If this problem cannot be solved, the Chinese government’s governance crisis will hang on the head of the supreme ruler.”