by Marian Draganov
SOFIA, June 9 (Xinhua) -- Thanks to reforms carried out under the leadership of Chinese President Xi Jinping, China's global influence is growing and the world is becoming "more Chinese," a prominent Bulgarian scholar told Xinhua in an interview on Friday.
Since Xi took office in 2013, China has made significant progress in domestic development and enhanced its role on the international stage, said Mariana Malinova Tian, an associate professor at the Institute of Historical Studies at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.
Tian, author of "Genesis and Development of Chinese Civilization" (2009) and "Bulgarian-Chinese Relations in Modern History" (2015), have published more than 50 articles on China.
A series of economic reforms have been carried out in China, which has achieved a sustainable development in the economy after three decades of vigorous growth, she said.
The sectors controlled by state-owned companies -- rail and air transport, finance, energy and telecommunications -- have become more competitive, and overall the Chinese economy has become less dependent on exports and investment in infrastructure, Tian said.
In the banking and financial sector, reforms have been carried out to open doors to international financial markets for Chinese banks, which aims to ensure steady GDP growth, she said.
Over the past four years, China has strengthened its role in the international financial and banking sector, Tian said, adding that in 2016, China's banking system surpassed that of the euro zone to become the world's largest by assets.
At the same time, the Chinese yuan has become one of the world's most traded currency. As a result of its rapid internationalization, the yuan was included in the basket of reserve currencies by the International Monetary Fund at the end of 2015.
With regard to entrepreneurship and innovation, reforms have given Chinese entrepreneurs significantly more freedom and increased competition, Tian noted.
In April 2017, the Chinese government approved the establishment of seven free trade zones, underlining the importance of opening up and reform, cutting red tape and exploring financial innovation.
They will facilitate investment and promote free trade of goods, especially petroleum products, Tian said, adding that reforms of state-owned companies located in the new free trade zones are also prepared.
Generally, the world's second largest economy has succeeded in a short time to change its way of boosting economic growth from relying on foreign investment and export to domestic consumption, she said.
"I can boldly say that China is increasingly confident in taking on the role of a global leader," Tian said, noting that China has proposed the Belt and Road Initiative and established various cooperation mechanisms with countries across the world.
China also stepped up its role in the United Nations peacekeeping missions, she said, adding that anti-piracy operations around the Horn of Africa is important.
"China is more and more confident in stating its intention to play a leading role on issues of regional security, climate change and global finance," Tian said.
Beijing is now the main aid provider for poor countries in Africa and South America.
Reforms have turned China into a leader in the global economic activities and a key player on the international stage, Tian said.
"Chinese influence in the world is growing day by day and the world is becoming more Chinese," she said.