Reform and opening of China

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Reform and opening of China

The author is the head of the China Institute of the JoongAgg Ilbo.
China is expected to face tremendous changes after the 20th party congress. The world is watching whether it will continue in the path of reform and opening or pursue a new path of closing. After the Beidaihe meeting concluded in mid-August, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has been calling for reform and opening. When he visited Guangdong Province, he dedicated flowers to the statue of Deng Xiaoping and said, “Reform and opening should move forward. The Yellow River and the Yangtze River cannot flow backward.”
China’s reform and opening are not new. Then why is Premier Li stressing reform and opening again? It is proof in itself that the reform and opening stance is faltering. Why? China has pushed for reform and opening for the past 40 years, but it has failed to solve two problems. One is where wealth has gone. It flowed to the private sector instead of the national treasury. The other is wealth distribution. The gap between the rich and the poor has widened. How should these problems be solved? China seems to have calculated that it would accumulate wealth and attain common prosperity by retracting the power allowed to the private sector.
In this regard, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s article published in the Chinese Communist Party magazine Qiushi on Sept. 15 is noteworthy. Xi argued, “Chinese socialism in the new era is the result of a great socialist revolution in which the Communist Party leads the people.” The word “revolution,” which has been a taboo since the Cultural Revolution, re-emerged. What does Xi mean by the great socialist revolution? According to a Chinese Communist Party scholar, “China is revising the reform and opening after the 20th party congress, and this revision process is a great socialist revolution.”
The observation that China will close its doors was raised in August when a positive study on the term “closed country” came out. The Chinese Institute of History under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences published a paper titled “A New Exploration of the Problem of Closure during the Ming and Qing Dynasties.” Closure in Chinese means “locking the castle gate,” and it is an isolationist policy that refrains from contact with the outside world. It is used in a negative sense as it let the Ming and Qing fall behind the West. However, the Chinese Institute of History came up with a different interpretation. It is a defensive self-protection strategy for when faced with threats of Western colonial invasion.
It is said that the study was presented to lay the theoretical foundation for China to shut down, as it is already in a semi-isolated state voluntarily and involuntarily due to the decoupling pressure from the U.S. and the zero-Covid lockdown. If China retreats from reform and opening, it will have a tremendous impact on Korean companies, Korea as a nation and the world. This is why we should pay close attention to the path China will take after the 20th party congress.
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