CHINA’S CHINA is trying desperately to change what it means to be a consumer in an increasingly competitive world, with the goal of turning the country into a “free market” economy.
The government’s latest plan, which comes after months of lobbying by Chinese retailers and the nation’s largest online shopping platform Alibaba, aims to change a key principle of a model that has been in place since 1949, when Chinese Communists began selling goods in their country, which is dominated by a tightly regulated government-owned economy.
China is the world’s biggest consumer of foreign goods, accounting for about half of global trade and about one-fifth of global gross domestic product.
The Communist Party has imposed a strict one-China policy, which means that Beijing controls all aspects of foreign trade and relations.
The new plan aims to give the government more power over the economy, and to limit the ability of Chinese companies to take advantage of foreign markets by providing more stringent regulations.
It would also allow the government to impose higher taxes on foreign imports and would allow it to impose stricter regulations on foreign companies.
The plan would give the central government more influence over how foreign companies operate in China, and it would give Chinese companies a greater degree of protection from the government, according to people familiar with the plans.
While China’s commerce ministry said in a statement that the changes are part of its “comprehensive strategy” to “build the new China,” Alibaba, a privately held company that operates in about 100 countries, said the plan would create more uncertainty and would affect foreign consumers.
The company said in its statement that it “will not comply with the plan” and would seek to change its business model, according the Shanghai-based online shopping portal Tencent.
Alibaba is a Chinese subsidiary of Tencent, a Beijing-based media and entertainment company.
The announcement of the plan came as Alibaba announced a deal to sell 100 million credit cards worth $50 billion to Visa, the world leader in online payments.
China has long been an investor in Visa, which it owns.
The U.S. credit card company Visa said Wednesday it has sold $5 billion worth of cards to China, the biggest deal in the U.K. for a single card.
Visa chief executive officer Peter Vessenes said the deal will help the Chinese government better manage financial systems and reduce corruption.