Despite China’s continued goal to remain and further open up to the outside world, the country will formulate a new economic blueprint which will take the domestic market as the mainstay to cope with the rising protectionism, global economic downturn and a shrinking international market.

The new development pattern will put the focus on its domestic market while letting domestic and foreign markets boost each other.

Since May this year, the top leadership of the country has reaffirmed the dual-circulation development pattern on various occasions, indicating the strategic priority of China’s economic development is accelerating the shift from an export-led to a domestic demand-driven growth model.

The Chongqing-Xinjiang-Europe International Railway is one of the first and busiest lines on the China Railway Express, a Pilot Project of China’s Belt & Road Initiative.

Since it first opened in 2012, over ten thousand trains have traveled through the Khorgos Gateway on the China-Kazakhstan border, connecting customers in China’s coastal markets with businesses across Eurasia.

“Our business is good. We have a lot of Chinese customers. Some wholesalers have come all the way from Urumqi and Beijing,” said a Kazakh owner of a confection store at the China-Kazakhstan Khorgos International Border Cooperation Center.

While trains provide a convenient and relatively cheap mode of transportation, the gateway has transformed the humble city of Khorgos into a success story, as it is one of the first tourist destinations in the region to bounce back from COVID-19.

“I bought a lot of stuff at duty-free shops. They look authentic and the prices were good,” said a tourist named Ma Li, who came to the city during the National Day holiday for shopping spree.

“During the National Holiday shopping festival, our daily sales reached 400,000 yuan,” said a owner of a duty-free store in Khorgos.

However, as the country shifts its emphasis toward its domestic market, some might start to wonder if this is a sign that China is leaning towards more trade protectionism, but according to Pu Yongjian, a professor at Chongqing University, China is just doing what it can control to protect its economy.

“The double dynamic of China’s economy, namely the stimuli from both outside and within, are a stable system. But relying only on the global market is unsustainable. Every country knows that. What China is doing is switching more of its reliance onto domestic consumers. Because the mode of relying on foreign investment and foreign technology is obsolete, especially in the face of COVID-19 and the trade war,” he said.

China’s policymakers are set to release the gist of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) later this week, providing more details about how the world’s second largest economy plans to adjust its policies to a fast-changing world.