Stop Mov­ing the Goal­posts: Keep­ing China’s WTO Com­mit­ments Clear

The ac­cus­ing WTO mem­ber doesn’t ac­tu­ally care whether China has ful­filled its WTO com­mit­ments. In its eyes, only when China reaches the open­ing and mar­ket op­er­a­tion lev­els it wants will China ful­fill its WTO com­pli­ance.

China Pictorial (English) - - Contents - Text by Su Qingyi

In terms of ful­fill­ment of WTO (World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion) com­mit­ments, all mem­bers of the or­ga­ni­za­tion should be treated equally. First of all, China’s WTO ac­ces­sion com­mit­ments, which were made when the coun­try was ad­mit­ted to the or­ga­ni­za­tion in 2001, were record

ed in three doc­u­ments: Pro­to­col on the Ac­ces­sion of the Peo­ple’s repub­lic of

China to the WTO and two re­ports from the work­ing party on the ac­ces­sion of China to the WTO. The two re­ports spec­i­fied China’s prom­ises to open up its ser­vices mar­ket. And the pro­to­col de­fined the coun­try’s other prom­ises out­side the realm of the ser­vices mar­ket. Sec­ond, after years of China’s ac­ces­sion to the WTO, mem­bers of the or­ga­ni­za­tion should be very clear of China’s com­pli­ance with its WTO com­mit­ments. For ques­tions as to whether China has opened up in com­pli­ance with its com­mit­ments, whether it met tar­gets on the time ta­ble and whether re­forms have been car­ried out in some ar­eas, the re­sults should be clear. Third, since 2006, the WTO has been per­form­ing a trade pol­icy re­view on China ev­ery two years. Ev­ery WTO mem­ber can su­per­vise China’s ful­fill­ment of its WTO com­mit­ments within the WTO frame­work. If any­one has com­plaints about China, the two sides can solve the prob­lem within the WTO re­view mech­a­nism.

How­ever, ma­jor dis­agree­ments ex­ist between China and a cer­tain devel­oped WTO mem­ber on China’s ful­fill­ment of its WTO com­mit­ments. In re­ports sub­mit­ted by the mem­bers’ trade rep­re­sen­ta­tive of­fice to its Congress in the past few years, this coun­try ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ments about China, claim­ing that China was not ful­fill­ing cer­tain key com­mit­ments it made when it joined the WTO and that sup­port­ing China’s ad­mis­sion to the WTO was a mis­take. China, of course, strongly dis­agreed. Since its ad­mis­sion to the WTO, China has strictly abided by WTO rules and im­ple­mented its WTO com­mit­ments. As early as 2011, China is­sued a white pa­per, stat­ing it had com­pre­hen­sively ful­filled its com­mit­ments to the WTO. On June 28, 2018, China re­leased an­other white pa­per ti­tled “China and nd the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion,” which ich pro­vides a de­tailed ac­count of China’s a’s ful­fill­ment of its WTO com­mit­ments. nts.

China’s ac­count of its ful­fill­ment nt of WTO com­mit­ments mainly con­sists sists of the com­par­isons between China’s s WTO ac­ces­sion prom­ises and its cur­rent im­ple­men­ta­tion. This method is fal­si­fi­able — if China were to lie, other her WTO mem­bers could eas­ily claim. In fact, us­ing this method solely, the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity has reached con­sen­sus that China has ful­filled its WTO TO com­mit­ments. How­ever, the afore­men­tioned WTO mem­ber has a dif­fer­ent nt un­der­stand­ing of this is­sue. In gen­eral, ral, on whether China has obeyed WTO rules, the coun­try reached its con­clu­sion sion pri­mar­ily based on China’s sta­tus quo. uo. As for whether China has bro­ken any ny WTO rules and which spe­cific WTO O rules China has vi­o­lated, it can­not pro­vide any clear an­swers. The 2018 re­port port on China’s WTO com­pli­ance about in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty (IP) sub­mit­ted by this mem­ber’s trade rep­re­sen­ta­tive of­fice e to its Congress is a prime ex­am­ple.

First of all, the re­port ad­mit­ted that China has changed its laws and reg­u­la­tions on IP rights ac­cord­ing to WTO’S O’s Agree­ment-on-trade-re­lated-as­pects-of In­tel­lec­tual Prop­erty Rights (TRIPS). How­ever, the re­port went on to de­clare clare that it found China’s acts, poli­cies, and nd prac­tices re­lated to IP still dis­crim­i­na­tory and a bur­den on the coun­try’s ex­ports orts and in­vest­ments. Thus, this mem­ber r iden­ti­fied China on the Pri­or­ity Watch ch List in its 2017 Spe­cial 301 re­port. Un­der nder WTO frame­work, IP re­lated rules are re stip­u­lated in the TRIPS agree­ment. Since this mem­ber al­ready ad­mit­ted that China has abided by the TRIPS agree­ment, it has no stand­ing to at­tack ack China in the IP realm. It is a typ­i­cal “my coun­try first” the­ory: It blames s China only be­cause it be­lieves China’s a’s

IP pro­tec­tion ex­erts a neg­a­tive im­pact on its own in­ter­ests. Ac­tu­ally, the two sides have lit­tle dis­pute on China’s sta­tus quo. The ma­jor di­ver­gence is that China be­lieves it has ful­filled its WTO com­pli­ance based on its WTO ac­ces­sion prom­ises while this devel­oped mem­ber state moved the goal­posts on China’s WTO ac­ces­sion prom­ises and has de­lib­er­ately set new stan­dards based on its own in­ter­ests. It be­lieved that these new stan­dards should be China’s prom­ises or the level China should reach. This coun­try doesn’t care whether China ful­filled the com­mit­ments that were made to the WTO. In its eyes, only when China reaches the open­ing and mar­ket op­er­a­tion lev­els it wants will China ful­fill its WTO com­pli­ance.

This coun­try be­lieves that China’s op­er­a­tion sys­tem hasn’t been mar­ket-ori­ented enough, and that WTO rules can­not con­strain China’s “twisted” mar­ket be­hav­ior. It ar­gues this harms its in­ter­ests and causes losses to its do­mes­tic man­u­fac­tur­ers, farm­ers, ser­vice en­ter­prises, in­no­va­tors, work­ers and con­sumers. This WTO mem­ber be­lieves that al­though much of China’s “im­proper” be­hav­ior can be man­aged by WTO rules, sub­stan­tial loop­holes ex­ist to cir­cum­vent WTO di­rect su­per­vi­sion that were omis­sions from China’s WTO ac­ces­sion prom­ises.

China should take ac­tive mea­sures to clearly ex­hibit how it has ful­filled its WTO com­mit­ments. China should also be­come more aware of the chal­lenges it will face in fu­ture de­vel­op­ment. It should in­spire more WTO mem­bers to re­al­ize that this spe­cific mem­ber’s re­ports on China’s WTO com­pli­ance are in­ac­cu­rate and bi­ased.

Novem­ber 9, 2016: In the Moscow ware­house of a Chi­nese in­ter­na­tional e-com­merce lo­gis­tics en­ter­prise, a lo­cal worker pre­pares goods for the up­com­ing Sin­gle’s Day on­line shop­ping fes­ti­val on Novem­ber 11. Xin­hua

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