BEIJING, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- Opening up has been among the major policies that China holds dear despite mounting protectionism and downward pressures, and the country has expedited its pace of opening its doors wider over the past year.
The highlights of China's opening-up measures over the past year are summarized below:
Overseas investors were encouraged to invest in the Nasdaq-style sci-tech innovation board known as the STAR market.
Foreign-invested rating agencies can give ratings to all kinds of bonds that are traded on China's interbank market and exchanges, the State Council announced in July.
In September, to facilitate foreign investment in the interbank bond market, China scraped investment quota limits for Qualified Foreign Institutional Investors (QFII) and Renminbi Qualified Foreign Institutional Investors (RQFII) and allowed the non-transacting transfer of bonds under the same overseas entity QFII/RQFII and direct entry channels and direct transfer between capital accounts.
Efforts to increase imports were evident in China's move to set up six new pilot free trade zones (FTZs) in provincial-level regions of Shandong, Jiangsu, Guangxi, Hebei, Yunnan and Heilongjiang in August, bringing the total number of pilot FTZs to 18.
Market access has been eased for foreign firms by shortening the negative list of sectors and businesses that are off-limits for foreign investors to 40 items in 2019 from 93 in 2017.
China also lifted foreign ownership limits on futures companies, fund management firms and brokerages starting from 2020.
China lowered or canceled import duties on certain products from Jan. 1, 2020. The import tax on frozen pork, for instance, was cut from 12 percent to 8 percent.
The country eliminated the tariff on pharmaceutical products containing alkaloids for asthma treatment as well as raw materials for the production of new diabetes medicines to reduce medication costs and promote the production of new medicines.
China also slashed the duties on imported fruits and juice to offer more choices for consumers.
To render a better business environment and provide overseas investors with stronger protection, China put into effect a landmark foreign investment law and a new regulation on optimizing the business environment on Jan. 1.
China said in early January that it will fully open up its market for oil and gas exploration and production to private and foreign companies, effective on May 1.
China's opening-up endeavor has won widespread recognition.
According to the latest World Bank report, China's ease of doing business ranking rose to 31 in 2019 from 46 in 2018, and it was also among the 10 economies that improved the most on the ease of doing business after implementing regulatory reforms.
Major global benchmarks like MSCI, FTSE Russell and the S&P Dow Jones Indices either strengthened the weighting of China's A-shares or included the A-shares into the indices last year.