Hainan province. Photo: Xinhua

China will facilitate investment and spur growth by further opening up its economy to foreign investors after the country was disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic and mounting international uncertainties.

China will unveil a new negative list for market access to Hainan Free Trade Port by the end of this year, allowing foreign investors to have wider access in a number of key areas, said Meng Wei, a spokeswoman for the National Development and Reform Commission.

The list was part of the country’s drive to build Hainan into a free-trade port with a higher level of openness and attract more foreign investment, Meng said.

Although global cross-border direct investment declined significantly amid the pandemic, foreign investment had gradually stabilized in China, posting better-than-expected growth, she added.

The negative list will dramatically reduce the number of prohibited and restricted items, said Cui Weijie, director of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation’s Institute of Industry Development and Strategy, citing the master plan for the construction of the Hainan Free Trade Port released in June.

China’s use of foreign capital rose increased by 2.5% year-on-year to US$103.26 billion in the first three quarters of the year, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

While most nations are still struggling with the pandemic, China has reported robust economic growth. The Chinese economy grew 0.7% year-on-year in the first three quarters, turning positive after a 1.6% slide in the first half, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

The World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 report showed China was among the top 10 nations that saw a considerable improvement in their business environment for two years in a row. On a yearly basis, China moved up 15 places from its 2019 ranking to 31st place this year among the 190 economies mentioned in the report.

State-owned enterprises

China’s centrally administered state-owned enterprises (SOEs) saw both profit and revenue growth in the third quarter, the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) said.

Revenues of central SOEs rose 1.5% year-on-year to 7.8 trillion yuan (US$1.17 trillion) between July and September. Net profits grew 34.5% to 474.8 billion yuan from a year ago.

In the first three quarters, central SOEs’ revenues decreased 4.6% to 21.1 trillion yuan from the same period of last year. Net profit dropped 13.6% year-on-year to 913.35 billion yuan.

In September, central SOEs saw their revenues hit 2.8 trillion yuan, up 4.3% from a year ago. Net cash flow from operating activities has returned to normal level of more than 400 billion yuan at the end of last month.

Market liquidity

People’s Bank of China (PBoC), the country’s central bank, pumped cash into the banking system through open market operations to maintain liquidity Wednesday.

The PBoC injected 80 billion yuan into the market through seven-day reverse repos at an interest rate of 2.2%. The move was intended to maintain reasonably ample liquidity in the banking system, the central bank said on its website.

Vaccine trials

No severe adverse reaction has been reported among the recipients of China’s Covid-19 vaccines, said Tian Baoguo, deputy head of the Department of Science and Technology for Social Development of the Ministry of Science and Technology. The recipients were also not infected after they went to work in countries that have the epidemic, Tian added.

China has 13 vaccine candidates in clinical trials, including three inactivated vaccines and one adenovirus vector vaccine in phase three trials overseas. About 60,000 volunteers have been inoculated with the four vaccine candidates.

These vaccines are generally safe and only have minor side effects such as pain and bruising at the injection site, as well as temporary low-grade fever, Tian said, citing some preliminary results.

Company news

Tmall.com, Alibaba’s online marketplace, will launch its annual shopping bonanza known as the Singles Day sale on Wednesday. A total of 250,000 brands and 5 million sellers are expected to participate in the 21-day sale festival until November 11. The number of discounted products offered will reach 14 million, 1.4 times that of last year.

Alibaba turned November 11 into a shopping bonanza in 2009. The day is celebrated by many young Chinese people as Single’s Day. Since then, the festival has become a nationwide sale holiday. In 2019, the Singles’ Day sale on Alibaba’s online shopping platform reached a record 268.4 billion yuan (about US$40.2 billion). 

The stories were written by Nadeem Xu and Shan Hui and first published at ATimesCN.com.

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