China celebrated the 40th anniversary of its reform and opening era on Tuesday. Hopes were high that President Xi Jinping would use the occasion to prepare the Communist Party of China, and the public, for the painful market reforms that the U.S. administration, foreign investors and Chinese economists are demanding. After all, economic pressure has mounted from inside and out over the past few months, exposing shortcomings in China’s state-directed financial system. International opinion about the threat posed by Chinese economic policies has changed and now could cut China off from the foreign capital and technology that fueled its rise. Besides, Beijing has been taking small steps to ease international pressure and sustain its trade truce with the U.S. by, for example, lifting foreign ownership caps in some sectors. Senior officials, including Premier Li Keqiang, repeatedly pledged more such measures in the weeks leading up to the event.
In his much-anticipated speech commemora
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