Artwork: Liu Rui/GT
Recently, my think tank and I participated in the preparations for the fifth China International Import Expo (CIIE), which will be held in November this year. From the preparatory work, I was able to feel the hardships and difficulties of China in hosting such an event.
Coupled with the trade war launched by the United States against China and the COVID-19 pandemic, the five years of the CIIE reflect China’s resilience and development potential and its ability to shape the future of the world. .
The CIIE emerged from the historical conjuncture of the transition driving globalization from the West to the East. In the second half of the second decade of the 21st century, the United States recovered from the financial crisis with a growing strategic trend towards de-globalization and populism. In the last period of the Barack Obama administration, the Trans-Pacific Partnership was set up with the aim of establishing a “small circle” to isolate China. After Donald Trump took office, the sentiment of de-globalization in the United States grew stronger. In 2018, the United States announced tariffs on goods imported from China, launching the biggest trade war against China in history.
China did not compete with the United States for isolationism, but bucked the trend and hosted the first import exhibition. It was not only a show of strategic confidence in China’s future development, but also put globalization back on track. It symbolized the rise of a new world power.
China’s self-confidence is well founded. During the second decade of the 21st century, China has gradually transformed from a “hitchhiker” to a leader of globalization. In 2013, China’s total global merchandise trade surpassed that of the United States for the first time, becoming the world’s largest trading nation. In 2016, when the UK voted to leave the EU and Trump took office, China’s foreign direct investment (FDI) exceeded $170 billion, becoming the net exporter of capital. In 2020, Chinese FDI reached a record high. In 2021, China remained the world’s top trading country, with its import and export shares accounting for 15.1% and 11.6% of the world’s respectively, becoming a real new leader and driver of economic globalization. . The absolute values of all these salient data indicate that China is beginning to lead a new wave of globalization, which some scholars call the “third wave of globalization.”
Since the successful holding of the first CIIE in 2018, China has joined the high-level regional cooperation agreement Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), applied to participate in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and to the Digital Economy Partnership. (DEPA), and used its own actions to fulfill the promise of globalization under high-quality development.
At present, China is actively increasing the level of its imports, especially in the service sector. The global significance of the CIIE is becoming clearer.
First, the exhibition reflects the new process of reshaping global trade and economic models. The Great Exhibition of 1851 was held in London, reflecting Britain’s establishment as the world’s economic and commercial leader since the Industrial Revolution. In 1939, the first New York World’s Fair was held, heralding the arrival of American economic supremacy. The impressive economic and trade data from the 2018 CIIE heralds a new shift in the global economic landscape amid profound changes not seen in a century.
Second, the expo marks a new start for China to lead a new wave of globalization. China-led globalization is not the traditional mercantilism of selling without buying, let alone ignoring the development of other countries and regions. As a newly emerging world power, China hopes to continue to hold the CIIE to show that China is willing to share China’s dividends with the peoples of the world and pursue a new and better life with all countries in the world with the philosophical logic that “people get rich first and then push for common prosperity”.
Third, the exhibition is a new window through which different civilizations can learn from each other in this new era. The companies and people participating in the exhibition not only aim to do business, but also offer a spirit of struggle and hard work at a time when pessimistic sentiments prevail and the global economy is experiencing a trend to the decline. As long as commerce and exchanges continue, and as long as people are willing to communicate, the evolution of civilization and cultural appreciation will continue.
The author is Executive Dean of the Chongyang Institute of Financial Studies at Renmin University of China, Executive Director and Distinguished Professor of the China-US People-to-people Exchange Research Center. [email protected]