China and the World Trade Organization: Moving Forward without Sliding Backward

By Mastel, Greg | Law and Policy in International Business, Spring 2000 | Go to article overview

China and the World Trade Organization: Moving Forward without Sliding Backward


Mastel, Greg, Law and Policy in International Business


With considerable fanfare, the United States and China struck a historic agreement on China's membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) in November 1999. The agreement is one of a series of bilateral understandings, to be followed by a multilateral WTO protocol of accession, that must be completed before China's WTO membership is finalized. In political terms, however, the agreement between Washington and Beijing is the most important step in the process and the one that has blocked progress in recent years.

It now appears that it will take some months for China to complete the WTO accession process, but China seems almost certain to join by the end of 2000. In recent years, it has been the United States that has pushed China hardest to embrace reforms as the price for WTO membership. Other countries with a strong economic interest in pressing China to abide by trading rules, notably the European Union (EU) and Japan, seem quite happy to allow Washington to do the lion's share of the work vis-a-vis Beijing's WTO application. Nonetheless, after Washington declared victory, the EU and other countries have sought to improve the bargain on particular issues of interest to their exporters.

Although it has received only limited attention thus far, perhaps the most fundamental issue raised by China's accession concerns the readiness of the WTO to handle the unique challenges posed by China's legal and regulator), system. The WTO has had difficulty handling similar challenges in countries, such as Japan, that maintain a legal and regulatory system much more similar to the Western model. The accession of China and a number of other form non-market economies that are likely to join in the next several years, such as Russia, could present an insurmountable challenge both to WTO dispute settlement and future negotiations.

I. HISTORY OF CHINA'S WTO MEMBERSHIP EFFORT

Before delving into some of the details of the issues surrounding China's compatibility with the WTO, a brief review of the events that led to the current state of affairs is useful. After WW II, the Republic of China (ROC) was an original member of the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT), now known as the WTO. When the Communist Revolution succeeded in driving the ROC government from the mainland to the island of Taiwan, the ROC withdrew from the GATT.(1)

Initially, the People's Republic of China had little interest in Western economic institutions like the GATT. With its opening to the world in the 1970s, however, China became increasingly interested in Western markets for its products, investment, and loans. China's early achievements in textile and apparel exports induced it to establish ties with a GATT-affiliated organization known as the Multi-Fiber Agreement (MFA) to secure markets for its textile exports.(2) In the mid-1980s, China's increasing success in exporting to western markets and expanding economic ties with the West drove it to seek GATT membership under the leadership of then leader Deng Xiao Peng.

The process of membership in the WTO, however, was complicated by the reality of an economy still dominated by the government and by increasingly difficult relations with the West on other fronts. In 1989, the Tiananmen Square massacre brought on a chill in relations between Beijing and most western powers, notably Washington. This effectively froze progress on the issue until the mid-1990s.

As is always the case with requests to join the world trading system, a working group was formed to consider China's WTO application. The working group is made up of WTO members that express a particular interest in trade with the applicant country. In China's case, several dozen countries, including the United States, the EU, Japan, and Canada, became members of the working group. An applicant must complete bilateral negotiations with each of the members to gain membership. Usually these agreements involve commitments from the prospective member to lower tariffs and make other concessions of interest to the existing member.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

China and the World Trade Organization: Moving Forward without Sliding Backward
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.