(Yicai Global) Feb. 13 -- Wei Jianguo, vice chairman of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges and former vice commerce minister, recently spoke in an exclusive interview with Yicai Global to discuss comments made by Liu He, member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and director of the General Office of the Central Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs.
Often dubbed Chinese President Xi Jinping's right-hand man, He said during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that China would further open up this year and may reform beyond the expectations of the international community.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening up, and the country is gearing up to roll out stronger-than-expected policies, said Wei, who made such concepts as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Silk Road Fund and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area a reality.
China needs to improve its general business environment to bring in more foreign investment, he said. In order to do this, it should level the playing field for all companies across the country -- from state-owned enterprises to smaller foreign companies. They should all fall under the same rules and be presented with equal opportunities, Wei added.
Foreign investment in China has been on the decline in either growth or amount over the past five years. In the manufacturing industry, China only saw progress in the processing industry, and lagged far behind countries like Germany and Japan. It needs to conduct supply-side reforms to improve productivity, profit and foreign investment, he added.
Some of the measures China could make to become the world's best business environment include stepping up protection of intellectual property, running a fair, open legal environment and building free trade ports, he added.
Wei believes free trade ports will be the key to China opening up further to the world. Whereas free trade zones are pilot areas to offer an experience to companies from other regions, ports could be a new place for a complete opening up, he said. China has 11 free trade ports at present, and Wei hopes they will allow the movement of cargo, currency, personnel and information and undergo major changes through laws and regulation.
Intellectual property is another key area, he continued, saying the country should reduce the threshold for copyright violations to be criminal offenses and look to align with international requirements.
China's legal system also needs to become more transparent, so companies and consumers worldwide know what to expect there, Wei said.