Xi Jinping this week praised Shenzhen for its economic development over the past 40 years. Photo: CCTV

China welcomes other countries to participate more in the reform, opening up and development of the country’s special economic zones, Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a speech in Shenzhen on Wednesday.

Xi, also the general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, said foreign participation has been indispensable in the building of special economic zones over the past 40 years, which in turn has also created vast development opportunities and offered development benefits for other countries.

On the last day of his three-day visit to southern China’s Guangdong province, Xi attended a grand gathering and delivered a speech in Shenzhen to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of China’s first special economic zone (SEZ).

He said Shenzhen has made five historic leaps forward since the establishment of the SEZ 40 years ago.

“Shenzhen is a brand-new city created by the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese people since the country’s reform and opening up, and its development over the past 40 years is a miracle in the world development history,” Xi said.

Xi mentioned the five historic leaps that have seen Shenzhen change. He said the city has changed from a small backward border town to an international metropolis with global influence; from implementing economic system reforms to deepening reform in all respects; from mainly developing foreign trade to pursuing high-level opening up in an all-round way; from advancing economic development to coordinating socialist material, political, cultural and ethical, social and ecological advancement; from ensuring that people’s basic needs are met to completing the building of a high-quality moderately prosperous society in all respects.

Xi identified the valuable experience that Shenzhen has accumulated over the past four decades.

He said SEZs should adhere to the party’s leadership over their construction and always keep their construction in the right direction; uphold and improve the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics and make the system more mature and stable through reform practices; adhere to the concept that development is of paramount importance, insist on the practices of daring to try and daring to be the first, and pursue reform breakthroughs through creative thoughts.

SEZs should remain committed to opening up on all fronts and continuously enhance the attractiveness of “bringing in” and the competitiveness of “going out” and take innovation as the primary driving force and win the upper hand in the global technological revolution and industrial transformation, Xi added.

Xi also said SEZs should follow the people-centered philosophy of development to allow the people to benefit more from the achievements of reform and development in a fairer way; ensure scientific legislation, strict law enforcement, judicial impartiality and universal law-abiding to make the rule of law an important guarantee for their development; carry out the philosophy of “lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets” to achieve sustained development of the economy and society as well as ecology and environment in a comprehensive and coordinated way.

He said China will implement the fundamental principle of “one country, two systems” in a comprehensive and accurate way, and promote the integrated development of the mainland and Hong Kong and Macau.

Besides, the central government will give full play to the leading and exemplary role of the SEZs while making overall plans for the country, so they can contribute more to national development. 

On August 26, 1980, the Standing Committee of the fifth National People’s Congress, the top legislature, approved the establishment of special economic zones in Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Shantou in Guangdong province and Xiamen in Fujian province.

In a speech on Wednesday, Xi urged Shenzhen to expand all-round opening up and outlined the city’s future missions.

He said Shenzhen should enrich the new practices of the “one country, two systems” cause, and lead the country’s process of socialist modernization. He asked the city to take active moves to further promote the construction of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, calling for efforts to synergize economic rules and mechanisms in the three regions.

Xi urged wider exchanges and deeper integration among young people in the Greater Bay Area to strengthen their sense of belonging to the motherland.

Also, Shenzhen should accelerate advancing opening up with institutional guarantees such as rules and norms and increase its efforts to explore a more flexible policy system and a more scientific management system in terms of domestic and foreign trade, investment and financing, finance and taxation, financial innovation, as well as personnel exit and entry, Xi said.

The city should build itself into a pilot zone for socialism with Chinese characteristics, set an example for cities of a modern socialist country, increase its capabilities to implement the new development philosophy, build a new pattern to deepen all-round reform and expand opening-up on all fronts, he added.

Xi said the central government and related departments must accurately understand the party’s plan, support the reform and development of the SEZs, encourage technological innovation, develop new industries and further open up.

The story was written by Xu Jiangshan and first published at ATimesCN.com.

Xu Yuenai

Xu Yuenai is a Beijing-based columnist specializing in international relations.