©2018 Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
China & World Economy / 68–93, Vol. 26, No. 2, 2018
*Yan Du, Lecturer, Business School, Sichuan Agricultural University, China. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org;
Yi Lu (corresponding author), Professor, School of Economics and Management, Tsinghua University, China.
Email: email@example.com. The authors thank the National Natural Science Foundation of China for
nancial support through research No. 71703130.
In this paper, China refers to the Chinese mainland.
The Great Opening up and the Roadmap for the
Future: The Story of China’s International Trade
Yan Du, Yi Lu*
The astonishing surge in China’s international trade is the result of comprehensive
economic reforms in the 1980s and 1990s. Trade was further bolstered by China’s
accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001. We examine several aspects
of China’s international trade that might help to explain its surprisingly fast growth
and its ever-growing role in the global economy. A large number of studies have
analyzed how trade liberalization, the WTO accession in particular, has profoundly
changed the Chinese economy. We survey notable contributions to this literature that
analyze the effects of trade liberalization on Chinese rms, individuals and households.
Meanwhile, China’s exports have had various effects on importing countries and the
enormous growth of China’s exports is seen by some observers as posing a threat to
China’s trading partners. Therefore, we discuss the emerging literature on the effects of
China’s spectacular export growth on consumers, labor markets, innovation, media and
politics in foreign countries. Given the new domestic and external circumstances, the
Chinese Government is determined to push for the formation of a new trade structure
characterized by broad opening up to transform China into a strong trading powerhouse.
Key words: China, international trade, opening up, reform
JEL codes: F13, O19, P11, P33
Over the past 40 years of reform and opening up, China’s economy has experienced
China’s role in world trade is perhaps the most prominent manifestation
of the country’s growth. In 1978, the total value of China’s imports and exports was
only US$20.6bn, equivalent to less than 1 percent of world trade. Since 2009, China has
been the world’s largest exporter, and in 2013 China rst overtook the USA to become