The “Understanding China” Conference, with a theme of New Globalisation and China’s New Round of Reform and Opening-up, was held October 25-27, in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province.

Hundreds of politicians, strategists, academics and entrepreneurs from 17 countries and regions exchanged ideas during eight parallel sessions focusing on topics such as the world economy and China’s economic outlook, the “Belt & Road Initiative” and industrial cooperation, building a business environment featuring fair competition, Bay Area development, and modernisation of the National Governance System.

Li Yong, Director General of the UN Industrial Development Organisation, maintained that China’s success would not have been possible without globalisation, which had accelerated over the last half century.

“The rise of China would have been impossible without a process that amplified opportunities for companies to invest abroad; to integrate into global value chains and to engage in trade is an effective way for countries to accelerate industrial development and reach higher levels of development,” Li said.

He believed China was well prepared to enter the new era of globalisation 4.0, a term coined in this year’s World Economic Forum to signal the coming shift in globalised structures characterised by many changes in technology. “Globalisation 4.0 is inevitable,” he insisted.

Kishore Mauban, distinguished Fellow of Asia Research Institute of National University of Singapore, believed the new wave of globalisation was achievable if everyone worked to develop a new intellectual consensus that globalisation was good and persuade the West, especially the United States, to move from an “America First” to a “Global First” policy.

Former Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said the bedrock of globalisation had been the trade liberalisation of the last decades and it was vital to avoid gradually drifting away from a rule based system back to the law of the jungle. Experts also shed light on the new round of reform and opening-up.

According to Zheng Bijian, Chairman of the China Institute for Innovation and Development Strategy of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CIIDS), there were three pressing issues in the current phase of reform and opening-up.

The first was to successfully shift the economy from a phase of rapid growth to a stage of high quality development; second, to achieve continued economic progress in major regions, especially the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, the Yangtze River Delta, and Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region; third, to step up scientific and technological innovation, so as to move the manufacturing industry up the value chain from the low-to-middle to the middle-to-high end.

The Understanding China Guangzhou Conference, is co-hosted by the China Institute for Innovation and Development Strategy of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs, People’s Government of Guangdong Province and the 21st Century Council of the Berggruen Institute.

The Conference was previously held in 2013, 2015 and 2018. This year’s Guangzhou conference was the first of its kind held outside Beijing.