BEIJING, March 8 (Xinhua) -- Minister of Commerce Chen Deming on Friday pledged that China will open even wider to the outside world.
Chen made the remarks in response to a question on whether China is at a standstill in opening up and fulfilling the pledges it made to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in its 2001 ascension.
"We recently concluded negotiations on free trade zones with 15 countries, and we are discussing new free trade zones with 13 others," Chen said at a press conference on the sidelines of the ongoing annual session of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature.
China is negotiating with the United States on a bilateral investment protection (BIT) agreement.
It is pressing forward in free trade zone talks with the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which involves the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as well as China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Australia.
China is also currently engaged in free trade zone talks with Australia and six Gulf nations, and it has nearly completed negotiations on free trade agreements with Iceland and Switzerland.
"We will further expand free trade negotiations with other countries and regional organizations. But first, we will promote the early harvest of the results of the Doha Round of trade talks," he said.
China has been unsuccessfully applying for membership of WTO's Agreement on Government Procurement since 2007. In 2012, China offered prices for the fourth time, and they were more open than the previous three offerings.
"All of this means we will open wider to the outside world," the commerce minister said.
To realize China's national policy of peaceful development, China and the rest of the world must open up to each other, said Chen, adding that amid this process, China must make its own decisions.
The opening up must benefit China's efforts to transform its economic development pattern and adjust its economic structure. It must also facilitate China's development, reform and innovation, he explained.
"As I understand it, opening up is meant to introduce the economic power of the global market to China. Our companies will meet more violent market competition in this process. But such competition will increase our strength and enable us to go out and better participate in global cooperation," he said.
Chen listed priorities for further opening up. China will open up new sectors, such as the service sector, as well as improve the regional opening up pattern, including opening inland areas and border areas. It will balance foreign trade by stabilizing exports and expanding imports. It will also seek common development amid "bringing in" and "going out" under the capital items, while paying particular attention to "going out" under the current situation.
China will participate in global economic governance to preserve the multilateral trading system, establish free trade zones and institute a fair and open international trade environment, added Chen.