China and the Long March to Global Trade: The Accession of China to the World Trade Organization

By Sylvia Ostry; Alan S. Alexandroff et al. | Go to book overview

1

General introduction

Alan S. Alexandroff and Rafael Gomez

After almost six years of “silence” following Tianamen Square in 1989, China and the member countries of the World Trade Organization resumed seriously negotiating its entry into the WTO (formerly the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade or GATT). 1 The negotiations, particularly the critical bilateral market access negotiations, occurred primarily with the major Western economies, namely the United States (US) and the European Union (EU). Following the resumption of serious negotiations in 1995, it was apparent that China was significantly different from the applicant of earlier negotiating years. China had grown enormously, its economic influence had spread globally and, despite a slight decline in growth following the soon to strike Asia crisis, China was more economically powerful and more globally involved than it had ever been since the establishment of the People's Republic of China (PRC). During this same period, a new set of emerging economies had grown quickly as well, notably Malaysia, Thailand and even Vietnam, but it was China that represented the spectre of an economic and political superpower unequaled in the developing world. Indeed, it is the size of China's population, its economy today and its potential tomorrow that attract such critical attention in both popular discourse and academic fields of study. This economic size and potential for growth underlines the uniqueness and dramatic importance of China's admission to the WTO.

The ways in which China has been studied and the ways in which its economic success has been accounted for are to a large extent embodied in this book. A principal aim of this study, China and the Long March to Global Trade: The Accession of China to the World Trade Organization (Long March) is to provide the reader with a critical analysis of the implications for the global economy and its institutions, of China's entry to the WTO. It uses the main disciplinary approaches (economic, legal and political) and their theoretical frameworks, which have been employed in the study of China's economy and society to examine China's accession.

There are several ways, in fact, in which this book provides a guide to the study of China's accession. First, while it does look briefly at the process by which China sought to accede to first the GATT and then the WTO, a distinction is drawn between China's integration into the global economic system and its actual legal accession to the WTO. In this regard, the Long March is more accurately viewed as an examination and overview of China's integration into the multilateral trading

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