Both historical and international experiences show that only by further opening up to the outside world can China continue to develop its economy and maintain its vitality. However, the level and rhythm of opening-up must be adjusted according to the national conditions.
For least-developed and developing countries, their process of opening-up to catch up with the developed world generally goes through three phases: participation, deepening and maturity.
The first three decades of China's reform and opening-up, from 1978 to 2008, were the participation phase of opening-up. During those years, China's main goal was to integrate with the world economy by expanding exports and attracting foreign capital.
The purpose of expanding exports was to earn foreign exchange, in order to ensure a smooth flow of imports. A certain amount of foreign exchange reserves is also needed to deal with the consequences of global financial and economic crises, so that economic development is not seriously compromised.
To promote exports, China has adopted novel ways of developing processing trade and making full use of foreign investments, because the advantages of abundant supply of labor for processing trade, in which foreign-funded enterprises hold the majority share, can make it easier for China to integrate with the international division of labor.