China admitted to WTO
After a 14-year struggle the People's Republic of China was admitted to membership of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) at its Ministerial meeting at Doha in Qatar, last week. After the necessary documents of ratification have been concluded, China will become a full member and be able to take part in all WTO deliberations and negotiations. An article in People's Daily (14/11/01), the newspaper of the Communist Party of China, set out the reasons for China applying to join the WTO and her stand on major questions. People's Daily recalled the failure of the Seattle Conference two years ago and noted that a fairly big divergence over a variety of questions existed among various members at the Doha Conference. The article continued: whatever the outcome of the conference may be, the participation of China, as a new WTO member, in the new round of negotiations is unavoidable. The new round of multilateral trade talks aims mainly to discus the formulation of new game rules, its contents involve the various aspects of the world economy and trade, the agreements reached will have a binding force on various WTO members, it will affect China's major interests, so China must actively cope with and participate in it. Maintaining an open multilateral trading system conforms to China's long- term strategy. Although China has joined the WTO, as a developing country whose overall national strength is not strong enough, it is very hard for China to fully guarantee its interests in dealing single-handedly with developed members, and it will easily be subject to unfair treatment particularly when disputes occur. The WTO is a rules-based organisation, its members promise to open the market and the result achieved in the solution of disputes have legal effects. Relying on a multilateral mechanism is China's best choice, which will enable China, within the framework of the WTO, to promote the formulation of international economic and trade rules to its own advantages, eliminate the discriminatory practices adopted by some members against China and demand that related members abolish the practice contrary to the WTO rules, further open their product and service markets to China, boost the expansion of exports, develop domestic industries of comparative advantage, so that China can better participate in economic globalisation. Besides, participation in a new round of negotiation by China as the largest developing country, will enhance the developing countries' collective negotiating capability, making it possible to change, to a certain extent, the balance of force between "North and South" and expedite the solutions of problems such as the unbalanced multilateral trading system, and the ineffective implementation of the Uruguay Round accords. Meanwhile, when China raises its voice in the new round of negotiation, promises to abide by international rules and relaxes market access it will make it easy to get the approval and support of other WTO members, this is conducive to establishing China's international image as an open and responsible country, and constructing a good external environment. Participating in a new round of negotiation is also an excellent opportunity for China to understand and grasp the WTO rules and operational mechanisms, it will help us to grasp the latest WTO movements and development trends, make more flexible and free use of WTO provisions and mechanisms and bring up in practice a batch of professionals familiar with WTO rules and well versed in international trading policies, so that we can perform obligations in a better way and promote what is beneficial and abolish what is detrimental. Of course, participating in a new round of multilateral trade talks will confront us with some unfavourable factors, for instance, conflict of interest between China and the developed members will become more intense, opening of the market will bring new pressure, some new topics for discussion in the negotiations will be disadvantageous to us, etc. This requires that we adopt effective tactics and play our active, constructive role in launching a new round of negotiation, so as to achieve maximum Chinese interests. The stance of the Chinese side is already clear-cut; in the new round of negotiation, we should give full consideration to the developmental level of the related industries of the developing countries and give it special treatment in the aspects of opening degree and speed; we should adopt practical and effective measures to guarantee implementation of Uruguay Round accords and to guarantee the comprehensive and effective participation of the developing members, the determination of topics for negotiation must be based on consultations on an equal footing. Negotiation of a package form will ensure that the result of negotiation embodies the overall balance of the interests of various parties. Although at the current Doha Conference, WTO Director-General Mike Moore and many members cherish high expectations of China in the new round of negotiation, judged from the current situation, however, the role China has to first play is to serve as a bridge between the developed and the developing members, that will be a new subject after China's entry into the WTO.