China's State Council Information Office released a white paper titled "China and the World Trade Organization" on Thursday, the first time that China has published a white paper on the issue. Because of Washington's capricious unilateral behavior, the World Trade Organization (WTO) is currently mired in an unprecedented conundrum. The white paper gives a full account of China's fulfillment of its WTO commitments and stresses China's support for the WTO.
Some people in Europe and the US believe that China doesn't obey WTO rules and hasn't been institutionally "transformed." There are also allegations that China has taken a free ride and gained extra advantages from the WTO and this is why the country is developing at such a rapid speed relative to its European and US counterparts.
These accusations are baseless. The white paper has listed detailed and authoritative evidence which suggests that China has earnestly fulfilled all its WTO pledges. By 2007, China had honored all of its commitments on trade in services. By 2010, China had fulfilled all of its tariff reduction commitments. To better implement WTO rules, China launched major efforts to review and revise more than 200,000 relevant laws and regulations at the central and local government level.
By April 2018, 23 of the 27 cases brought against China to the WTO had been resolved. China respects and has been earnestly implementing WTO rulings, and up to now, none of the complainants has requested retaliation against China. By any standard, China is a straight-A member within the WTO framework.
Indeed, China has seen rapid growth since joining the WTO. But China's rise has benefited the world as well. In the past 17 years, China's exports shot up at nearly the same rate as its imports. No country has provided the world with such an enormous market and opportunities within transnational corporations like China. After integrating into the global value chain, China has provided the global market with high-quality and reasonably-priced goods, which has lowered the living costs of customers in many countries. The above indisputable facts deserve respect.
Westerners should have long ago abandoned the idea of "transforming China." It is also not a goal that the WTO, as a multilateral organization, should pursue. China has become a core member of the WTO, a position that China has earned through years of contribution and influence. Of course, China also shoulders its share of responsibility. At a time when Washington has shown strong contempt for the organization, China's support is indispensable to the WTO, defending the authority and effectiveness of this multilateral trade mechanism.
Washington's shifted attitude toward the WTO comes at a time of increasing criticism against China's performance within the organization. Both serve to support the Trump administration's policies of unilateralism and protectionism. The WTO and GATT, its predecessor, were both established under the advocacy of the US. But now Washington is about to abandon it. Multilateral trade system with WTO as the core is the base of the global trade. Shake of it will lead to turmoils, posing a big challenge to the international community.
The white paper points out that China steadfastly pursues a mutually beneficial opening-up strategy. This reassures the outside world as China is a country that honors its commitments.