One of the key misunderstandings of China's new development paradigm of "dual circulation" has been that the world's second-largest economy is withdrawing to its domestic market and shying away from the world. Quite the opposite, Beijing continues to facilitate its huge domestic market to foreigners and the China International Consumer Products Expo is a good example.
The expo, which closes on Monday, presents an unprecedented platform to access the Chinese consumer market. Products of companies and brands from 69 countries and regions worldwide were on display. According to the Ministry of Commerce, foreign-funded enterprises and brands were the majority of participants at the event, a testament to the Chinese market's attractiveness and potential for foreign businesses.
The expo is an integral part of the overseas circulation in the new development paradigm featuring "dual circulation," in which domestic and overseas markets reinforce each other, with the domestic market as the mainstay.
"Behind the technical-sounding phrase lies an idea that could change the global economic order," Mark Leonard, co-founder and director of the European Council on Foreign Relations, wrote in an April commentary. "One realm ('external market') will remain in contact with the rest of the world, but it will gradually be overshadowed by another one ('internal market') that will cultivate domestic demand, capital, and ideas."
Such is typical of the foreign analysis over the "dual circulation" in recent months, which envisioned China looking or turning "inward," a word that has been splashed across the headlines in The New York Times, Financial Times, and South China Morning Post.
Earlier this month, Qiushi, the Communist Party of China's flagship journal, published Chinese President Xi Jinping's key speech illustrating the new development paradigm. The first misunderstanding that shall be avoided, Xi said, was the one-sided emphasis on the domestic market advocating a substantial contraction in the opening up to the outside world.
In other words, the domestic market as the "mainstay" does not mean it comes at the expense of overseas market. This may be difficult to understand for outsiders, but it is in line with the dialectical logic that has been preached and practised by the Communist Party of China for decades. In theory, the unity of opposites is the central category of dialectics: whereas two conditions, in this case, two markets, appear opposite to each other, they are yet dependent on each other and presupposing each other.
In practice, China has never ceased its steps to open up. In recent years, China has been holding a series of national-level trade fairs that also include the Canton Fair, the China International Fair for Trade in Services, and the China International Import Expo. The China International Consumer Products Expo is the latest addition.
Hainan, the island province that hosted the expo, is being built into a free trade port, a move that demonstrates Beijing's resolve to advance reform and opening-up, widen market access, improve the business environment, and expand imports and outbound investment.
President Xi has also underlined the enormous importance of building an ultra-large market in a sustainable fashion. On the whole, China is expected to become the world's largest goods consumption market during the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) period and the biggest services trader by 2035, Chi Fulin, head of the Hainan-based China Institute for Reform and Development, said at a forum during the expo.
The data for this year already looks promising. According to the General Administration of Customs, China's import and export value in the first four months rose 21.8 percent compared with the same period in 2019, beating expectations.