Cross-border trade and investment of the 21st century should be protected based on the principle of a level playing field and that any proposed change of the rules, if any, must be discussed and agreed upon by all stakeholders within the framework of the WTO; it should not be imposed or dictated by one country, even if it is the most powerful country, writes Nelson Wong, Vice Chairman of the Shanghai Centre for RimPac Strategic and International Studies.
In his opening address to the Shanghai Import Expo in November 2020, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced China’s adoption of the “Double Circulation” strategy which he reaffirmed should from now guide the country’s development in view of the changing situations at home and abroad. Double Circulation is a new buzzword that now frequently appears in the Chinese media and official narratives; but what does it actually mean? Those unfamiliar with China and who are often bewildered by Chinese affairs, have begun questioning whether this is a sign of China retreating from the competition and confrontation it currently has with the US, or whether China is simply making a strategic withdrawal altogether. A clear explanation of China’s strategic shift of attention is therefore necessary for all stakeholders who have a vested interest in understanding and dealing with China.
In the context of Chinese political discourse and policy announcement, short phrases and succinct expressions are often preferred to summarise the essence of major policies of strategic importance that call for nationwide attention. Typically known for having only a few words, some of these slogans are easy to understand while others may be rather confusing to people without any knowledge of the rationale behind them or who fail to put them in a cultural and historical context. For example, back in the day when the People’s Republic of China was first established, the whole nation was mobilised to grow the economy under the motto of “Self-Reliance and Hard Struggle”, against the backdrop of the new republic being largely isolated from the rest of the world. In the 1980s, when China started its “New Long March” to modernise the country with the national campaign of “Reform and Opening-up”, a plethora of policies were introduced to turn China into the world’s manufacturing base, attracting foreign investment that would bring businesses from abroad and in turn selling the end products overseas. This approach, known as the “Double-Ends Abroad” strategy, by practically connecting both ends of the production process with the world market, proved to be successful and instrumental in increasing China’s production capacity and contributing greatly to the nation’s wealth building over the last four decades.