The Guardian November 21, 2001


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.

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