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Reform for Development and Opening-up for Win-Win Results 2018 Forum on National Affairs “Furthering Reform at a Starting Point”

Date: 2019-02-01
 President Xi Jinping once underlined the importance of the reform and opening-up policy, describing it as having a decisive influence on the trajectory of modern China and a key step towards the “two centenary goals” and great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
 
To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the reform and opening-up policy, the Counselors’ Office of the State Council, China Society of Administrative Reform, and China Society of Economic Reform co-organized the 2018 Forum on National Affairs in Beijing in late September, with a focus on how to renew the impetus for reform and opening-up, creating an opportunity to make new discoveries, report new progress, identify new goals, share new experience, and offer new advice.  
 
2018 Forum on National Affairs underway
 
Mr. Gu Shengzu, Vice Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, Executive Vice Chairman of the China National Democratic Construction Association, attended the opening ceremony and delivered a keynote speech. He drew attention to the defining features of the Chinese economy in the new era: shifting from high-speed growth to high quality growth driven by innovation. While recognizing China’s increasing strength in scientific and technological innovation on the whole over the past 40 years, as was shown by the emergence of a number of momentous innovations, he stressed the remaining sore points in China’s innovation capacity building. To promote innovation, he believes institutional innovation is more important than technological innovation, encouragement of talents more important than R&D, and a conducive environment more important than the concentration of factors. He called for efforts to better coordinate the roles of the government and market, with market playing a decisive role in the allocation of innovation resources and the government providing a system for innovation-driven development, creating a favorable environment, and stepping up input in the public goods for research to fully unleash the vigor for innovation.

Mr. Gu Shengzu delivering his keynote speech
 
Heads of the three organizers also addressed the opening ceremony. Mr. Wang Zhongwei, Chairman of the Counselors’ Office of the State Council, shared his views on how counselors should advise the government. He believes counselors must steer their work in the right direction, following as their ultimate guide the Xin Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era; they need to put the people’s interests first, seek truth from facts, be innovative, and develop an international perspective. He underscored the need for practical advice on reducing costs, generating growth impetus, and promoting innovation and called on counselors to make renewed efforts at this new starting point to help free the mind, deepen reform, promote openness, and make solid steps forward.
 
 
Mr. Wang Zhongwei delivering his speech
 
Mr. Ma Jiantang, Vice President of the Development Research Center of the State Council and President of China Society of Administrative Reform, focused on the historic administrative reforms in China, which is an important part of the reform and opening-up policy, and called for greater determination and intensity and more solid steps in this area, following the guidance of the Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. In doing this, he said the focus should be placed on shifting the role of the government, which holds the key to the whole endeavor, and further streamline the government functions and administration and delegate more powers.
 
 
Mr. Ma Jiantang delivering his speech
 
Mr. Peng Sen, President of China Society of Economic Reform, stressed the importance of strategic patience, and said that for reform and opening to go further, China needs to focus on managing its own affairs well. Decisive steps should be taken in reforming the key areas and links so as to generate impetus for growth and deliver a good economic performance. Only in this way can China stand strong in international competition.
 
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Mr. Peng Sen delivering his speech.
 
International agencies were also represented at the Forum. Mr. Mahmoud Mohieldin, Senior Vice President of the World Bank, delivered a keynote speech; Mr. Francis Gurry, Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), sent a video message, and Mr. Chen Hongbing, Director of WIPO Office in China, spoke at the forum. All of them recognized China’s growing openness and innovation-driven development, commended the results of China’s reform and its active role in international cooperation, and expressed the readiness to further their cooperation with China.
 
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Mr. Mahmoud Mohieldin delivering his keynote speech
 
Mr. Francis Gurry speaking in a video message
 
Mr. Chen Hongbing speaking at the forum
 
Panel discussions were held under four topics: Improving the business environment, upgrading the quality of manufacturing, addressing the new pain points in people’s livelihoods, and building a new pattern of opening-up.
 
Ms. Wang Hong, Vice Chairperson of the Central Committee of Revolutionary Committee of the Chinese KMT and Vice Mayor of Beijing, stressed the need to improve business environment for the ultimate purpose of benefiting the people. Government should put themselves in the shoes of the people, not dictating but meeting the needs of the business community. The right question to be asked is not “what to do”, but “what is asked of me by the businesses and people”. Only with a “zero-distance” service system can the government be connected with what the businesses are thinking about.
 
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Ms. Wang Hong delivering her keynote speech
 
Mr. Li Yizhong, former Minister of Industry and Information Technology and Chairman of China Federation of Industrial Economics, talked about the integration of Internet businesses and the industrial and manufacturing sectors, which gave birth to a number of platforms for public services and solutions for SMEs. He called for efforts to upgrade the technologies of the manufacturing industry in order to realize smart development.
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Mr. Li Yizhong delivering his speech
 
Ms. Yu Yanhong, Member of the Leading CPC Members Group of the National Health Commission, Deputy Director of the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine, underlined the importance of developing a hierarchical medical system and a modern hospital management system, improve the health insurance system, and guarantee pharmaceutical supply. She also identified “Internet+Health” as a solution to the difficult access to medical services and the associated high expenditures.
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Ms. Yu Yanhong delivering her keynote speech
 
Ms. Gao Yan, Chairperson of China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, believes competitive Chinese enterprises should be encouraged to invest abroad in a sensible way to integrate into the global value chains and create China’s own international brands; Chinese equipment should go overseas for international production capacity cooperation; Chinese enterprises operating overseas should be regulated to curb irrational investment and encourage law-abiding behavior and a sense of corporate social responsibility so Chinese investment can develop a good international image.
 
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Ms. Gao Yan delivering her keynote speech
 
The four panel discussions were repectively moderated by Mr. Justin Yifu Lin, Mr. Liu Yanhua, Mr. Qiu Baoxing, and Ms. Xu Lin, counsellors of the State Council. Mr. Lin noted that to streamline administration, delegate power, strengthen regulation and improve service, the key is to reduce the institutional costs for business activities so as to unleash market vitality and innovation capacity. Ms. Liu pointed to innovation as the most important ingredient for China’s transformation from a manufacturing hub to more smart and quality production. Mr. Qiu believes the Internet Plus initiative could be introduced to address issues related to people’s livelihoods as it would better allocate human resources, the most scarce type of resources in market economy, such as esteemed teachers and doctors, to meet the demand. Ms. Xu Lin called for wider and a more sophisticated design for openness to develop an open, modern economic system and realize quality growth.
 
Participants in the discussions included Mr. Song Xiaowu, former President of China Society of Economic Reform, Mr. Chi Fulin, President of China Institute for Reform and Development, officials from Shanghai City, Zhejiang Province, Hainan Province, Shenzhen City, the National Development and Reform Commission, the State Administration for Market Regulation, Ministry of Civil Affairs, and Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, senior managers from SOEs and private businesses, and scholars. Ideas were shared on a number of questions: streamlining administration, delegating powers, and improving regulation and services; reducing fees and lowering taxes to tap into market vitality; better creating, protecting, and applying intellectual property; speeding up the development of the manufacturing sector; integrating the Internet, big data, Integration of AI and real economy; encouraging platform economy and sharing economy; renewing efforts to encourage mass entrepreneurship and innovation; reforming the health, old-age care, and education sectors and better utilizing the Internet in these areas to improve the people’s livelihood; taking China’s manufacturing and services industries abroad under the Belt and Road Initiative; supporting reforms and openness in the Xiongan New Area; deepening Free Trade Zones reforms.
 
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A panel discussion underway
 
The opening ceremony was moderated by Mr. Zhao Bing, Vice Chairman of the COSC and attended by more than 400 participants, including Mr. Zhang Yantong, Vice Chairman of the COSC, officials from other agencies of the State Council and international organizations, Counsellors of State Council and research fellows of the COSC and lower-level governments, scholars, business leaders, and media representatives.
 
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Mr. Zhao Bing moderating the opening ceremony