China has come to a new crossroads, where it needs to make important decisions on its future. It has chosen to go for a more efficient and open economy, writes Richard Li

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the decision of Deng Xiaoping, then leader of China, to enshrine “reform and opening up” as one of the country’s fundamental national policies in 1978. Four decades later, 2018 has witnessed another round of grand changes, which will see China open up further.

In March, China adopted a plan to reshape government organizations significantly. “The overhaul is the most comprehensive in recent years, with various ministries and agencies created, combined or dissolved,” says Greg Liu, a partner at Paul Weiss in Beijing.

Greg Liu believes that one important institutional change is the establishment of the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) to replace three former agencies – the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC), the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, and the China Food and Drug Administration.

Judie Ng Shortell, another partner at Paul Weiss in Beijing, says the SAMR has also become China’s sole antitrust regulator, with the consolidation of the various antitrust functions that the SAIC, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) previously handled. “The consolidation is aimed at streamlining antitrust review and enforcement,” she says. “Whether SAMR will be more or less aggressive in enforcement of antitrust regulations remains to be seen.”

Another significant change is the merger in March of the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) and China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC) into a new entity named the China Banking Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC). “CBIRC is now China’s central regulator to supervise the banking and insurance industries, and this move is expected to reduce regulatory arbitrage and delineate the supervisory roles between the two sectors,” says Michael Chin, a partner at Simmons & Simmons in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

王昳-WANG-YI-诺顿罗氏律师事务所-北京代表处负责人-Head-of-Beijing-Office-Norton-Rose-Fulbright

In addition to rejigging the regulatory bodies, China has also quickened its pace on further opening of its market. “Over the past 12 months, there have been quite a few official updates made in relation to the opening of sectors to foreign investments,” says Wang Yi, head of Norton Rose Fulbright’s Beijing office. “These updates have been positively received by international companies and financial institutions interested in investing in China. We have been instructed by various clients to restructure and expand their China businesses following the new opening. Granting more market access will, undoubtedly, continue to bring about great business opportunities for foreign companies that have kept their eye on the evolving Chinese economy.”

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王冠-WANG-GUAN-国枫律师事务所合伙人,北京-Partner,-Grandway-Law-Offices-Beijing
WANG GUAN

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WANG GUAN
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RAO YAO
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RAO YAO
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OUYANG DAN
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HENRY FUNG
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刘依兰-NANDA-LAU-史密夫斐尔律师事务所合伙人,上海-Partner,-Herbert-Smith-Freehills-Shanghai
NANDA LAU

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NANDA LAU
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JENNY SHENG
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LIAN YAN
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WANG JIHONG
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