-- People who witnessed China's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) 20 years ago would have never expected the "Double Eleven" today would be a totally different sight in this country.
-- Over the past two decades, China's continuous efforts in widening opening-up have injected new vitality into the country's development and world economy.
-- "WTO accession has proved to be one of the most important economic events in the history of China and the modern world, which has created a win-win outcome for China and the world," said Yi Xiaozhun, WTO's former deputy director-general.
SHANGHAI, Nov. 10 (Xinhua) -- People who witnessed China's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) 20 years ago would have never expected the "Double Eleven" today would be a totally different sight in this country.
On Nov. 11, 2001, Shi Guangsheng, then Chinese Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation, signed the protocol on China's accession to the WTO in Doha, and a month later, China formally became a WTO member -- a landmark event in the country's opening-up and development and the world's multilateral trading system.
Twenty years later, Chinese netizens are gearing up for another "Double Eleven," the annual consumption spree which started in 2009. In the pre-order session that started two weeks ago, washing machines and dryers, household appliances, and a wide range of cosmetics belonging to various foreign brands are among the popular choices.
File photo shows Shi Guangsheng (L, front), then Chinese Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation, celebrating with others after signing the protocol of China's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) on behalf of the Chinese government in Doha, Qatar, Nov. 11, 2001. China became a formal WTO member on Dec. 11, 2001. (Xinhua/Wang Jianhua)
Economists believe that the two "Double Eleven" are closely linked and are the result of China's reform and opening-up policy that brings massive benefits to both the country and the world.
TRANSFORMATION AFTER WTO ACCESSION
In 1984, the U.S.-based 3M founded its China branch in Shanghai as the first wholly foreign-owned enterprise established outside the four special economic zones since China's reform and opening up.
In 2001, the company officially launched its first particulate respirators tailored for Chinese customers and manufactured in the country.
Now 3M is one of the key multinational enterprises to have participated in the China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai for four consecutive years. With products ranging from masks, noise-reducing earplugs to water purifiers and acne pimple patches, the brand has won growing popularity among Chinese consumers. It is also ready for the upcoming "Double Eleven" shopping extravaganza.
People visit the 3M booth during the second China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, east China, on Nov. 7, 2019. (Xinhua/Fan Peishen)
Over the past two decades, China's continuous efforts in widening opening-up have injected new vitality into the country's development and world economy.
During the period, China's economic size has grown from the 6th to the 2nd largest in the world, trade in goods from the 6th to the 1st, and trade in services from the 11th to the 2nd. China has led developing countries in utilized foreign investment, and its outbound direct investment has risen from the 26th to the 1st. China has contributed an annual average of nearly 30 percent to the growth of the world's economy.
The huge changes can be more clearly seen in a group of comparison figures: 20 years ago, China imported and exported 11.56 billion yuan (about 1.81 billion U.S. dollars) of goods a day, and now it only takes about three hours; Chinese people spent 480 million yuan an hour then, and now it takes about six minutes.
China has fully delivered on its accession commitments. Its overall tariff rate has been cut from 15.3 percent to 7.4 percent, lower than the 9.8 percent accession commitment. The central government has reviewed and revised over 2,300 laws and regulations, and local governments over 190,000, which all helped unleash market and social vitality.
"WTO accession has proved to be one of the most important economic events in the history of China and the modern world, which has created a win-win outcome for China and the world," said Yi Xiaozhun, WTO's former deputy director-general.
People buy products while visiting the "CIIE Fair" on the Nanjing Road pedestrian walkway in Shanghai, east China, Nov. 8, 2021. (Xinhua/Fang Zhe)
As Chinese consumers keep filling their shopping carts, the country's shopping list from the rest of the world is also getting longer with more variety.
The annual "Double Eleven" festival, which falls on Thursday, was first started by Alibaba's e-commerce platform on Nov. 11, 2009, and quickly grew into a major shopping event.
On Alibaba's Tmall platform, the "Double Eleven" festival sees a record 290,000 brands participating and discounts for more than 14 million types of commodities.
NEW OPPORTUNITIES FROM HIGH-STANDARD OPENING-UP
As China marks the 20th anniversary of its accession to the WTO this year, the country is pushing high-standard opening-up, which will further benefit its over 1.4 billion people and the world.
In his keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the fourth CIIE on Nov. 4, Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed that China will firmly safeguard true multilateralism. It will also firmly share market opportunities with the rest of the world, promote high-standard opening-up, and uphold the common interest of the world.
People visit the 4th China International Import Expo (CIIE) in east China's Shanghai, Nov. 5, 2021. (Xinhua/Li Xiang)
Among the new opening-up moves, China will lay more emphasis on expanding import, open more demonstration zones for creative promotion of import trade, and optimize the catalogue of retail imports via cross-border e-commerce. The country will also further shorten the negative list for foreign investment, and expand the opening of telecommunication, healthcare and other services in an orderly fashion.
Through the establishment of free trade zones and the Hainan free trade port, the relaxation of restrictions on foreign investment, the hosting of the CIIE and the China International Consumer Products Expo, as well as the domestic ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, China has accelerated its overall opening-up, bringing real and remarkable benefits to people and enterprises both at home and abroad.
In the first three quarters of 2021, China's imports totaled nearly two trillion U.S. dollars, up 32.6 percent year on year and a record high. According to the latest WTO data, in the first half of the year, China's international market share of imports increased by 0.7 percentage points year on year to 12 percent, contributing 15 percent of the global import increment.
Abikunda Samuel, the commercial counselor at the Embassy of Rwanda in China, said that previous participation in the CIIE has helped Chinese consumers learn more about Rwanda's famous products, such as chili oil and coffee.
Some Rwandan brands have caught up with China's e-commerce trend in collaboration with well-known live-streaming hosts. "Once, we sold some 3,000 packs of coffee within one second, and we hadn't even prepared that much stock," he recalled. "That was a huge surprise."
Long-term business ties established between China and Rwanda through the CIIE have created many job opportunities for Rwandan farmers, and thus benefited the country's economy as a whole, said Samuel.
Staff members are busy sorting packages at a dispatch center of Yuantong Express Company in Jiangbei District, Ningbo of east China's Zhejiang Province, Nov. 10, 2021. (Xinhua/Jiang Han)
China announced at the first CIIE in 2018 that its imported goods and services were estimated to exceed 30 trillion dollars and 10 trillion dollars, respectively, in the next 15 years.
As the fourth CIIE concluded Wednesday with 70.72 billion dollars worth of tentative deals reached, many of the participating companies will join the "Double Eleven" festival.
"The CIIE is a bridge that connects China with the rest of the world, and that's exactly what Cargill has been doing for the past 50 years," said Jerry Liu, president of Cargill in China.
"Inspired by the exciting new opportunities that the CIIE has unlocked for us, we will embrace the next 50 years with even greater hope and ambition as we continue to grow together with our partners and customers in China," Liu said.
(Video editors: Zhang Haofu, Li Mangmang, Cao Mengyao, Lin Fanjing.)■