Scape­goat­ing China means re­treat from WTO prom­ise

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT -

Acon­certed ef­fort is be­ing made by some West­ern pow­ers and Ja­pan, their lo­cal ally in Asia, to con­tinue us­ing the “proxy method” for mea­sur­ing the price of im­ports from China. To China’s dis­may, these coun­tries have de­ter­mined to keep us­ing the method de­spite a pledge made by the mem­bers of the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion upon China’s ac­ces­sion to the world’s free trade regime in 2001 that they would drop the method af­ter 15 years.

Their de­ci­sion is based, they claim, on the con­sid­er­a­tion that China re­mains a non-mar­ket econ­omy. But it ig­nores the con­trac­tual pe­riod that they them­selves agreed upon, while their de­ci­sion that China is not a mar­ket econ­omy is one made by their gov­ern­ments, and hence po­lit­i­cal.

Over the past 15 years, huge ef­forts have been made by China and Chi­nese com­pa­nies, large and small, to com­ply with all the re­quire­ments set by the WTO. Dis­mis­sive of this as it is, the de­ci­sion serves to give the busi­ness­peo­ple of China the im­pres­sion that it is a badly dis­guised at­tempt at pro­tec­tion­ism and sig­nals these economies cow­ardly re­treat from the free trade prin­ci­ple that their gov­ern­ments so loudly touted when their dom­i­na­tion of the world mar­ket seemed un­chal­lenged.

By deny­ing China mar­ket econ­omy sta­tus those gov­ern­ments ap­pear to seek a con­ve­nient pre­text for dis­crim­i­nat­ing against a coun­try that has con­trib­uted more trade, more growth, and more op­por­tu­ni­ties to the world than any other trad­ing na­tion has done.

They choose to ig­nore the fact that China’s in­creas­ing pro­file in global trade would not have been achiev­able through pri­mar­ily non-mar­ket econ­omy meth­ods. Only by fol­low­ing mar­ket econ­omy prin­ci­ples could the busi­ness po­ten­tial of a na­tion of more than 1.3 bil­lion peo­ple be so quickly and near mirac­u­lously re­leased.

To at­tribute China’s suc­cess in global trade as a phenomenon of it be­ing a non-mar­ket econ­omy is in it­self an act to shame the mar­ket econ­omy.

If a non-mar­ket econ­omy can grow so fast, why do other non­mar­ket economies fail? And if a non-mar­ket econ­omy can grow faster than mar­ket economies, why do peo­ple need a mar­ket in the first place?

Im­prob­a­ble as the core ar­gu­ment is, the de­nial of China’s full WTO rights may sig­nal a very se­ri­ous trend. If it is tar­geted not only to China, but to all com­pe­ti­tion, then it may sig­nal the col­lapse of the rules-based sys­tem of global trade that is es­sen­tial for a strong, open and sus­tain­able world econ­omy.

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