China economy

China’s reform and opening up can keep delivering ‘miracles’, says Xi Jinping

  • In Shenzhen, transformed by opening up four decades ago, president vows the policy ‘will never stop’
  • SMEs are indispensable and can get big things done, he says
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 October, 2018, 1:13pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 November, 2018, 3:51pm

President Xi Jinping has vowed to continue China’s reform and opening up, and backed it to solve the country’s challenges as he reflected on 40 years of the policy during his tour of the country’s south.

The road of “reform and opening up” was the “correct path” and China could create “bigger miracles” by sticking to it, Xi was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua news agency on a visit to Shenzhen, China’s foremost technology hub.

“I come to Shenzhen again ... so that we can declare to the world: China’s reform and opening up will never stop,” Xi was quoted as saying.

“This year marked the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening up. In the last 40 years, China’s development achievements have impressed the world,” the Chinese leader said.

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“So, since we are getting better and better, then why don’t we continue along the chosen path? Although we have some difficulties and problems, we have to solve and overcome them by going along the chosen road. We must firmly walk down the road of reform and opening up.”

The Shenzhen stop continued Xi’s tour of Guangdong province. It is hoped the trip will bolster confidence in China’s economic prospects when the country is facing slowdown at home and an escalating trade war with the US.

Shenzhen is where China’s “economic miracle” started when the former paramount leader Deng Xiaoping decided to embrace market mechanisms and to integrate China into the global economy four decades ago.

The policy helped turn Shenzhen from a small fishing village into a city referred to as China’s answer to Silicon Valley.

But doubts about whether China’s model – a combination of authoritarian one-party rule and raw capitalism on the ground – can continue to serve it well are on the rise.

In Shenzhen, Xi visited Qianhai, confirming an earlier report by the South China Morning Post. He had also visited in December 2012 just days after he became the head of the Communist Party.

According to Xinhua, Xi was “touched” by what he saw this week. A barren seaside marsh six years ago had become a vibrant new city centre with trees, lawns and high-rise buildings.

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“The Qianhai model is feasible, and we must find replicable experiences to promote to the whole country,” Xi was quoted as saying. The decision of setting up special economic zones in Shenzhen and Zhuhai had been proven right, he added.

Separately on this week’s tour, the president has spoken in support of the country’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which are struggling in a slowing economy.

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“The central committee of the Communist Party has always valued development of medium and small-sized businesses and has always been looking for ways to encourage your growth,” Xi was quoted as saying on Wednesday afternoon while visiting Guangzhou Mino Automotive Equipment, a developer of automatic machines to make vehicle parts.

He said SMEs were an indispensable part of the country’s technology innovation and job creation, Xinhua reported. “SMEs can get big things done,” Xi said.

The endorsement of small firms came after China’s growth lost steam, decelerating from 6.7 per cent to 6.5 per cent in the third quarter.