Observer: Setting SEZs as new model of reform and opening-up in new era
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Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a speech Wednesday at a grand gathering celebrating the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in South China's Guangdong Province. In the speech, Xi said the establishment of SEZs is a great innovative move made by the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the country in advancing reform and opening-up as well as socialist modernization.

Four decades ago, after the reform and opening-up policy was adopted, the Central Committee of the CPC set the cities of Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Shantou and Xiamen in South and East China as four special economic zones, implementing special and flexible policies and measures. 

Seen as windows and models of the reform and opening-up and the socialist modernization for the whole country, Shenzhen and other SEZs have been striding on the forefront of China’s reform and opening-up. 

Born and prosperous because of the reform and opening-up policy, Shenzhen SEZ has become a charming, robust and innovative international city. The city’s GDP in 2019 reached 2.69 trillion yuan ($400.5 billion), and experienced an average 20.7 percent of annual GDP growth for the last 40 years, which is a miracle in the world’s history of industrialization, urbanization and modernization.

Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, Shenzhen thoroughly implemented President Xi Jinping’s instructions, undertaking the missions to building a pioneer and demonstration zone of socialism with Chinese characteristics and a model city of a socialist modernized powerful nation. By continuing to explore and innovate, Shenzhen has made new achievements, created new advantages and taken new steps.

Shenzhen is a miniature of China’s SEZs that they act as test fields in the systematic reforms, as well as important windows for opening up. The SEZs made great contribution in opening up and modernization on a national scale.

The practice of SEZs has proven the Central Committee of CPC did make a correct decision to establish SEZs. And to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects and to triumph in the march of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era, the SEZs must persist and achieve even more.

The achievements Shenzhen and other SEZs made represent the historic change and achievements China made after the reform and opening-up policy came into effect. 

China has become the world’s second largest economy, the largest manufacturer, the largest cargo trader, the second largest country of consumption, the second largest country of forex inflow, the country with largest forex reserves, and China has contributed more than 30 percent of the world’s economic growth for years. 

The world is now witnessing great changes which were unseen for a century. The coronavirus pandemic also fanned the changes, which made economic globalization meet setbacks. And China will encounter a harsh outer environment. 

China will start a new five-year plan next year, the 14th in a row. Although China’s development has many advantages and favorable conditions, the imbalanced development still sticks out. The reform has stepped into deep waters with great difficulty. China is standing at the historical juncture of times, the complication, sensitivity and hardship of advancing reforms is no easier that it was 40 years ago.

New situations, new tasks and new challenges have assigned SEZs new missions that they need to find new directions, grasp the new strategic location, remain the important window for opening-up, the test field, the explorer and the doer unchanged, deepening the understandings, contributing new projects and providing more replicable and applicable experience.

In the past 40 years, Shenzhen has witnessed a series of exploration and innovation in policies and practices, leading China's water testing in opening-up. The special economic zone should stick to the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics while further expand opening-up, to build more miracles in the world development history.