China's endeavor to build an open economic system through comprehensively deepening reforms will push forward the process of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), which is aimed at consolidating regional integration and defining long-term development goals.
At a press conference after the conclusion of the 22nd Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting in Beijing on Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping said APEC member economies have decided to approve a roadmap for promoting the FTAAP process.
The move was "a historic step we took in the direction toward realizing the FTAAP," marking the official launch of the FTAAP process and demonstrating the confidence and determination of APEC in advancing regional economic integration, he said.
The decision will bring the integration to a new level, benefit economies at various development stages across the Pacific Ocean, and inject new energy into the growth of the region and APEC members, the president said.
"We have reached consensus that regional economic integration is the driving force behind sustained strong growth in the Asia-Pacific, and APEC should continue to play a leading and coordinating role in pushing forward this process," he noted.
Xi's remarks came three days after the historic roadmap for the FTAAP was sketched out at the APEC Ministerial Meeting, which agreed to "launch and comprehensively and systemically push forward the FTAAP process."
Once established, the FTAAP, the largest FTA in the world, can not only avoid the "spaghetti bowl" dilemma, but also unleash much greater economic vigor than other regional trade arrangements. And if completed, it will add an estimated 2.4 trillion U.S. dollars of output to the global economy.
As the world's second largest economy, China's decision on comprehensively deepening reforms will undoubtedly inject strong impetus to the FTAAP, an idea first proposed in 2004.
In November 2013, the Communist Party of China (CPC) unveiled a new reform plan that highlights a more decisive role of the market in allocating resources.
At the close of the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, a decision on "major issues concerning comprehensively deepening reforms" was approved.
The general objective of the approved reforms is to improve and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics and carry forward the modernization of the country's governing system and capabilities.
Decisive results must be achieved in key sectors, and a well-developed, scientific, procedure-based and effective framework must be in place by 2020 to ensure institutions in all sectors to be more mature, said the communique.
One month later, Xi, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, personally headed a leading group for overall reform in China.
The leading group held its first meeting earlier this year, approving the establishment of six sub-groups, which will steer reform in the six aspects of economy and environment, democracy and lawmaking, culture, social affairs, CPC party building, and CPC discipline inspection.
Meanwhile, the Chinese government has steadily fostered innovation by opening up more sectors to private investors to bring in competition and new ideas to the market.
In a keynote speech at the APEC CEO Summit on Sunday, Xi mapped out China's grand reform blueprint, saying the country's deepened overall reform will benefit regional and global development and prosperity.
The president said that to comprehensively deepen reform, China needs to stimulate market vitality, broaden the path for innovation, advance opening up, as well as improve people's well-being and promote social equity and justice.
"Comprehensively deepening reform will not only liberate the productive force but also unleash the vitality of the society. It will serve as a strong driving force for China's economic and social development," Xi said.