Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Xi Jinping said during the recently-concluded 20th Party Congress that China would open up economically to the world. But experts warned that this would mean obliterating international rules in the regime's favor at the expense of the free world.
"We'll be steadfast in deepening reform and opening up across the board," said Xi during his meeting with the press at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on Oct. 23, according to Xinhua, the regime’s official news agency. The day, Xi secured an unprecedented third term as leader of the CCP.
But Grant Newsham, a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy, warned that such remarks are a smokescreen.
"I don't think it means what Westerners think it means," Newsham told The Epoch Times in an email.
"There was nothing compromising in the speeches," said Newsham, adding that he has been following the Chinese regime for almost 40 years and economic “opening up” has been a consistent CCP talking point the entire time.
The CCP regime wants to welcome Western businesses and financial companies to China so that they can provide funding, investment, and technology to strengthen the country’s economy and its military, the People's Liberation Army, according to him.
Disastrous Economic PoliciesFrank Lehberger, a Europe-based sinologist and an expert on CCP policies, drew attention to Xi’s emphasis on promoting “institutional opening up.”
“We will steadily expand institutional opening up with regard to rules, regulations, management, and standards,” Xi said during the opening of the Party Congress on Oct. 16.
Yet such language again is code for the Chinese regime wanting to reshape the global economic landscape in its image.
"China wants to subvert accepted international trade and commerce rules, and replace them with new arbitrary and dictatorial socialist one that ALWAYS favor China and no other trading partner," Lehberger told The Epoch Times in an email.
He cited the regime’s trillion-dollar global infrastructure investment project, the Belt and Road Initiative, as an example. The initiative has drawn mounting criticism from Western officials who describe it as a form of “debt-trap diplomacy” that opens the door to Beijing getting its hands on critical infrastructure in developing countries.
Lehberger described the Chinese regime’s trade practices as "predatory" that violate World Trade Organization rules, and noted that Xi’s handling of the pandemic through the draconian “zero-COVID” has crippled the country's economy.
Meanwhile, the regime has also faced considerable international backlash over a range of issues from human rights abuses to technology theft, and have countered Beijing’s aggressions with biting sanctions and trade embargoes.
As a result, China is also losing its status as the "workshop of the world," he said, and this year the Chinese economy has declined further with dismal gross domestic product figures.
Despite such woes, Xi will not put an end to his "destructive" policies, according to Lehberger.
As the communist regime’s supreme leader, Xi “can never be wrong, whatever he says or does, so his policies—however erroneous—must be kept in place forever no matter the economic cost," said Lehberger.
Foreign RelianceThe West, however, remains the vital provider for China's economy despite the regime’s attempts to subvert the international rules-based order. This means that Beijing will continue to lean on other nations for financial support.
Attorney Jonathan Bench, a regular contributor to China Law Blog and the chair of Harris Bricken’s corporate practice group, told the Epoch Times that by talking about China opening wider to the world, Xi is signaling that PRC can't exist without engaging with the rest of the world despite it trying to boost it's domestic consumption.
"Looking at the U.S. and its allies, that means dealing with head-to-head competition and making limited concessions, as China did in finally acquiescing to the PCAOB (the U.S. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board) inspectors auditing the books of public Chinese companies listed on U.S. exchanges," said Bench, referring to the United States’ insistence on getting U.S.-listed Chinese companies to comply with American auditing requirements, which the firms were previously excused from.
The Chinese regime will continue to "negotiate and intimidate" while it deals with its allied countries or those saddled between the United States and China—doing this will ensure its domestic security, which largely means energy security at this point in time, according to Bench.
Lehberger said Xi needs the West for more foreign capital that can ensure support for the country’s faltering economy.
However Xi's socialist planned economy model is a "huge step backwards," he said, and therefore will be a failure because it will not be accepted or recognized by the international community, especially developed nations. "Except maybe autocracies such as Putin’s Russia, Belarus, Iran, North Korea, or quasi-failed Afghanistan, Pakistan, Myanmar and some countries in Africa," he said.
Lehberger also doubted Xi's economic expertise, adding that his choice for the next premier next is equally clueless.
Chinese leaders, like outgoing Premier Li Keqiang and outgoing Vice Premier Liu He, who had expertise in the economy and in international trade are now all retired and removed from power, according to him.
"So economic catastrophe in China replete with all social ills is practically preprogrammed for the immediate future," Lehberger said.