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16 Aug 2019
On 15 August 2019, several three-year action plans on opening and reforming key services sectors (“Opening Up Plans”) were published by ten local Beijing authorities, including Beijing local branches of the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) and the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). The new Opening Up Plans are backed by the State Council’s 22 February 2019 issuance of the Approval regarding Comprehensively Implementing the Trial Working Plans for Opening Up Beijing Service Businesses.
The Opening Up Plans set out breakthrough measures to allow and attract greater foreign investment across a multitude of sectors with long-standing restrictions, including technology, Internet, finance, education, culture/travel, healthcare, elderly care and professional and commercial business services. Among these measures, the major changes relating to the telecoms/Internet and media sectors, to be implemented by local authorities by the end of 2019, include the following:
Relaxing foreign investment shareholding restrictions in certain sub-categories of value-added telecommunications services (VATS), including:
Eliminating foreign shareholding restrictions for the following culture and entertainment business activities, within designated areas of Beijing:
Relaxing market entry regulations for Internet content services, including online gaming, online video/streaming services and books:
The Opening Up Plans (starting from Beijing as a trial) represent a tremendous step, even far beyond China’s WTO commitments, in the direction that China has been progressing all year: placing foreign investors on par with domestic businesses, nearly across the board. As a result, the whole landscape of the Chinese telecoms/Internet and media markets will very likely undergo a more significant transformation than ever.
 The Opening Up Plans are constituted of: (1) the Three Year Action Plans on Opening and Reforming the Technology Sector (《科技领域开放改革三年行动计划》); (2) the Three Year Action Plans on Opening and Reforming the Internet Information Sector (《互联网领域开放改革三年行动计划》); (3) the Three Year Action Plans on Opening and Reforming the Finance Sector (《 金融领域开放改革三年行动计划》); (4) the Three Year Action Plans on Opening and Reforming the Education Sector (《教育领域开放改革三年行动计划》); (5) the Three Year Action Plans on Opening and Reforming the Culture and Travel Sector (文化旅游领域开放改革三年行动计划)); (6) the Three Year Action Plans on Opening and Reforming the Healthcare and Elderly Care Sector (《医疗养老领域开放改革三年行动计划》); (7) the Three Year Action Plans on Opening and Reforming the Professional Service Sector (《专业服务领域开放改革三年行动计划》); and (8) the Three Year Action Plans on Opening and Reforming the Business Service, Transportation, Construction Service and Other Sectors (《商业服务、交通运输、建筑服务等领域开放改革三年行动计划》),all jointly issued by 10 competent local authorities.
 国务院院关于全面推进北京市服务业扩大开放综合试点工作方案的批复, issued by the State Council on 22 February 2019.
 See the qualified “service provider” regime of the agreements commonly known as “CEPA”, e.g., the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement Agreement on Trade in Services (《〈内地与香港关于建立更紧密经贸关系的安排〉服务贸易协议》), effective as of 1 June 2016; the Mainland and Macau Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement Agreement on Trade in Services (《〈内地与澳门关于建立更紧密经贸关系的安排〉服务贸易协议》),effective as of 1 June 2016.
 Such storage and forwarding services and domestic multi-party communications services were only recently fully open to foreign investment under the Special Administrative Measures on Foreign Investment Access (Negative List) (2019 Edition) (《外商投资准入特别管理措施(负面清单)(2019年版)》) (“Negative List”), jointly issued by the NDRC and the MOFCOM on 30 June 2019 and effective as of 30 July 2019.
 The operation of performance brokerage institutions has also been fully opened to foreign investment under most recently issued Negative List.