A glance at imported products on the shelves of even an average-size supermarket in Beijing invariably shows that shoppers have plenty of options.
From food and beverages such as fruit, meat, baby formula and wine, to other daily necessities, including clothing, products from around the world have become commonplace for countless Chinese consumers using bricks-and-mortar shopping venues.
The variety of global goods flooding into China is not only testimony to the nation's burgeoning domestic market, but also shows, in particular, how deeply the country has become interwoven with worldwide trade.
Yi Xiaozhun, the WTO's former deputy director-general, praised China's contribution to the global economy through expanding imports.
Over the past 20 years, China has risen from sixth place in the world to first for its trade in goods, and from 11th place to second for its trade in services. It has also become the world's largest exporter and second-largest importer.
Li Xingqian, director-general of the Department of Foreign Trade at the Ministry of Commerce, said at a recent media conference in Beijing, "The world's second-largest importer for 12 successive years, China accounted for 11.5 percent of global imports in 2020, and the figure rose to 12 percent during the first half of this year.
"During the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25), China will further emphasize expanding imports to benefit our trading partners, and also share development opportunities with the rest of the world."
Liu Jie, general manager of Optima Integration Group (OIG), a leading #frozen products import service platform in China, said her company has witnessed how the nation's increased imports have benefited companies in this sector throughout the world.
"Our clients always say that China is a genuine advocate of opening-up and free trade. They say that it keeps its promise and has taken concrete action to open up its vast domestic market to foreign enterprises," Liu said. The nation has not only reduced tariffs, but also continues to remove non-tariff trade barriers and adopt trade facilitation measures such as simplified customs procedures, Liu added.
She cited meat imports as an example. In 2001, China authorized only a few factories to export meat to its huge market. But now about 2,110 have permission to do so. In addition, it now takes only about 30 minutes using single-window customs services to clear meat imports, compared with several days in the past, Liu said.
"China has become the world's largest meat consumer. Its stable economic growth promises more opportunities for its trading partners," she added.
China's domestic market has become a stabilizer for the global economy and trade.