Great expectations in uncertain times

Guesswork aside, the future is rooted in the present

This year, China marks the 40th anniversary of economic reforms that opened the country to foreign investment.

Dramatic progress has been made, but the State Council, China’s cabinet, says more needs to be done to create a stellar business environment that is open and fair.

In one of its first statements of the year, the council called for nationwide use of short lists that tell investors where they can’t operate, replacing the long lists of all the sectors open to them. It also promised to step up efforts to cut red tape, slash business fees and reduce taxes.

China was ranked 78th in ease of doing business, according to a 2017 report by the World Bank, up from 96 in 2013.

Yin Xingmin, an economics professor at Fudan University, said he is very upbeat about China’s economy after he interviewed more than 300 entrepreneurs in Shenzhen, the city where economic reforms started 40 years ago.

“We are witnessing technological progress that can transform the world much in the way that the invention of steam power and electricity did,” Yin said.

Indeed, China is a recognized leader in adapting new technologies, including artificial intelligence and cloud computer. It has been a pioneer in bike-sharing, development of a cashless society and clean-energy vehicles.

Some people predict that change will come but more slowly than in the past.

“China, as well as the world, has entered a phase of nursing growth instead of over-stimulating it,” said Huang Jun, chief Chinese analyst at

China has been proceeding cautiously with deeper reforms to address what are seen as economic imbalances amid a growing public demand for a better lifestyle.

Justin Lin Yifu, Peking University professor and former World Bank chief economist, said China's best practice in developing its economy is to pursue growth in an innovative way -- instead of relying too much on western theories.

"It is lucky that China adopted the so-called dual approach in the early stage of its reform and opening-up process. It helped the country better use its capital, and helped state-owned enterprises survive, " Lin said at a forum hosted by Fanhai International School of Fudan University during the weekend. 

"The country is innovative by following a path of its own... Such a practice should be continued in this new era," Lin said.

What lies ahead? The future is now unfolding itself. Let's stay curious and innovative.

Special Reports