The Politics of China's Accession to the World Trade Organization: The Dragon Goes Global

By Pearson, Margaret M. | The China Journal, July 2007 | Go to article overview

The Politics of China's Accession to the World Trade Organization: The Dragon Goes Global


Pearson, Margaret M., The China Journal


The Politics of China's Accession to the World Trade Organization: The Dragon Goes Global, by Hui Feng. London: Routledge, 2006. xiv + 202 pp. £65.00 (hardcover).

A surprisingly large number of books have been published in recent years about China's accession to the WTO. Of those that attempt to explain the politics behind the decision to push for accession (as opposed to the economic results), Hui Feng's is one of the best, in large part because he makes a convincing case tbat the decision is a useful metric for China's overall reform program. Rather than seeing WTO accession as merely a trade policy issue, Feng argues that it was a strategic foreign policy and domestic reform decision, a signal of how far China's leadership at the time was willing to compromise in favor of global economic integration. The importance of the decision, as perceived by Chinese leaders, goes a long way toward explaining both the drawn-out negotiations as well as the personal involvement of top leaders in getting the deal done.

Feng does not break new ground regarding the concrete explanations for, or history of, the accession process. The book's main strength is its comprehensive treatment of the policy process and its ideological and bureaucratic contexts. Especially useful is the discussion of the broad strategic context of the decision, and the documentation of leaders' arguments-notably those of Zhu Rongji and Jiang Zemin - that WTO membership could be leveraged strongly for continued domestic reform. Feng also constructs a careful argument in favor of the view that the many changes in laws, tariffs and other policies the PRC made during the negotiation years (particularly during 1991 to 1998) were a genuine effort to establish a credible commitment to adapt to the WTO rules, despite significant domestic bureaucratic resistance. …

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