You have got to be joking ?
China’s economy before they were in the WTO was third world at best !
Letting China into the WTO was the biggest mistake any American President has ever made !
Joining WTO is a very important event for the development of China at the beginning of the 21st Century. This important event is preceded by the establishment of permanent normal trade relations with the United States in 2000, twenty one years after the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries. These two events are significant because they mark the Chinese economy coming of age as China is recognized by the United States and the world economic community as an equal partner.
Yet in America, China’s single biggest trading partner, sentiment towards the country has turned starkly negative. In a recent poll, 61% of Americans said that China’s recent economic expansion had been bad for America; just 15% thought it had been good. This partly reflects China’s controversial currency regime. By keeping the exchange rate down, China’s critics allege, it has gained a substitute for the mercantilist measures it gave up to join the WTO.
Electronic payments are one example. China’s first ever payment card was issued in 1986 by MasterCard. Foreign brands remained dominant at the time of China’s WTO entry. But shortly afterwards, China’s central bank established a domestic competitor, China UnionPay, and gave it a de facto monopoly over the handling of local-currency payments between merchants and banks. This setback might have been easier to take for foreign companies had the market not since grown tenfold, to $1.6 trillion, according to The Nilson Report, an industry newsletter.
China’s economy has evolved faster than anyone hoped. But its economic philosophy has not. Long Yongtu, who helped China win admission to the WTO, recently said that China is now moving further away from the organisation’s principles. To modernise its economy, it has remained wedded to industrial policies, state-owned enterprises, and a “techno-nationalism” that protects and promotes home-grown technologies.
Many foreign companies feel they must compete not with Chinese firms but with the Chinese state. Between them, China’s central and local governments own over 100,000 companies and implicitly favour many more. Thanks to the WTO, foreign firms are no longer required to hand over technology in exchange for entry to China’s market. But many still feel an informal pressure to do so. China is also keen to promote its own firms by enforcing its own technological standards, such as for 3G mobile phones.
Many of these interventions violate the spirit, if not always the letter of WTO rules. In response, America often pushes back bilaterally rather than in Geneva, according to a former American trade negotiator. This is partly because companies worry they will face retribution from China’s government if they provide evidence against it in a trade case. It is also because much of what China does falls into a grey area that is not easy for the WTO to police.
In some cases the discrimination is no worse than before, it is simply more visible. As part of its WTO agreement, China now circulates draft laws and regulations for 30 days to collect comments. That has made it easier for foreigners to spot foul play. America recently complained that China had failed to notify the WTO of nearly 200 subsidy programmes, such as those supporting green-energy technology. It knew this in part because China, following its newly transparent practice, had disclosed many such programmes online, the former negotiator said: “Similar policy announcements were neibu (for limited distribution) in the past.”