China always acts as the strong proponent for free trade

China's foreign trade has maintained double-digit growth for a long period, retaining its position as the world's largest trading nation in goods for seven consecutive years. The rapid expansion of China's trade has made the country a crucial hub for international trade and a primary driving force for global economic growth. 

The rise of China's trade has not only benefited the Chinese people but also people around the world, serving as a model of mutual benefit and win-win cooperation.

The rapid development of China's trade has driven the growth of global trade, providing strong support for a faster recovery of the global economy, while promoting trade diversification and balanced development. China actively participates in global economic governance and trade rule-making, playing an important role in improving the global trading system and promoting the construction of an open world economy.

Since the reform and opening-up about four decades ago, the rapid development of China's foreign trade turns out to be a rare and miraculous phenomenon in the history of global trade. China's foreign trade expanded to 41.76 trillion yuan ($5.8 trillion) in 2023 from 35.5 billion yuan in 1978, a rise of 1,185 times in yuan terms, with an average annual growth rate of 17 percent.

In recent years, against the backdrop of a slowing global economy and a complex and volatile trade environment, China's trade has maintained stable rise, indicating the sector's strong competitiveness and resilience. China has become the world's largest goods trading nation and the second-largest in services trade.

China's export structure continues to be optimized, gradually shifting from traditional labor-intensive products to high-tech, high value-added products. In recent years, the exports of high-tech products such as new-energy gear and electric cars have grown rapidly. 

According to the General Administration of Customs, exports of labor-intensive products last year accounted for 17.3 percent of the total exports. The value of electromechanical exports reached $1.98 trillion, accounting for 58.6 percent of the total, demonstrating significant achievements in China's economic innovation and industrial upgrading, reflecting the transition from "Made in China" to "Innovated in China."

China has been actively expanding trade partners and deepening economic and trade cooperation with other economies. The number of its trade partners increased from more than 40 in 1978 to more than 230 today. This diversification reduces trade risks and offers more market opportunities for Chinese enterprises. 

China is strengthening and consolidating trade relations with traditional partners such as the US, the EU, and ASEAN, and it's also actively establishing close economic and trade cooperation with countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, resolutely promoting trade liberalization and globalization.

China's foreign trade entities are vibrant, with private enterprises excelling. In 2023, the number of foreign trade entities with import and export records in China exceeded 600,000 for the first time. Among them, 556,000 were private enterprises. 

In 2023, the total trade of private enterprises reached $3.19 trillion, accounting for 53.5 percent of the nation's total foreign trade volume.  For the same period, the trade conducted by state-owned enterprises accounted for 16 percent of the total, and that of foreign funded enterprises accounted for 30.2 percent.

Private enterprises have displayed rapid market responses and strong innovation capabilities, injecting new vitality and momentum into China's foreign trade and playing an increasingly important role in China's foreign trade.

Many private enterprises have become the main force driving growth of China's exports, especially in high-tech and high value-added products, where the performance of private enterprises is particularly outstanding.

China's high-level opening-up is steadily advancing, with new platforms and new business formats showing strong impetus. In 2023, the number of China's pilot free trade zones expanded to 22, which generated trade of $1.09 trillion. 

Since the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) came into effect two years ago, the cost of regional trade have been significantly reduced, and links in industry and supply chains have become closer, leading to more closely connected trade among its members. In 2023, China's trade with the 14 other RCEP member countries reached $1.77 trillion, up 5.3 percent from 2021 before the agreement took effect.

The outstanding performance of China's commerce is the result of the combined effects of multiple factors. Strong institutional safeguards and policy support, a complete industrial system and vast industry chains, efforts to build open trade routes and cooperation platforms, the effective implementation of innovation-driven strategies, and the continuous exploration of new growth potential have collectively propelled the rapid growth of China's foreign trade.

As the global economy faces great uncertainties, China's stable performance in foreign trade provides important support for the stability of the world economy. More importantly, in contrast to certain countries' anti-globalization moves, China has always been the steady force supporting free and unfettered trade.

China is willing to share its development opportunities with the world, and is committed to building a global community of a shared future in which all economies thrive. 

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