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China defends its post-WTO business record


AFP Beijing
China today insisted it has "carried out every promise" made in joining the World Trade Organisation as Washington and Brussels push Beijing to do away with protectionist policies.
Hitting back at critics like US President Donald Trump, China published a white paper titled "China and the World Trade Organization" outlining reforms Beijing has undertaken since joining the agreement in 2001.
"There is not one WTO member that has economically suffered or lost out because China joined the WTO, this situation doesn't exist," said China's vice commerce minister Wang Shouwen, at a press conference introducing the report.
The Trump administration has said the US erred in supporting China's entry and has accused Beijing of not living up to pledges to carry out market-oriented reforms.
"China has steadfastly carried out every promise made upon entering the World Trade Organisation," Wang said, noting if some countries don't agree "you can sue us at the WTO".
China has only faced 41 suits at the supreme court of trade, Wang noted.
But critics say China has done a good job of intimidating firms and countries into not suing.
"You could say in the absolute most technical sense, they have fulfilled their obligation, but in reality no," Christopher Balding, an economics professor at Shenzhen's HSBC Business School.
Wang's defence of Beijing's business practices come amid mounting threats of a trade war with the United States.
US and EU officials often complain about Beijing's intervention in markets, the large role of state-owned companies in the economy and protectionist industrial policies.
European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen said on a visit to Beijing this week that the issues should be tackled in an updated WTO agreement.
Katainen said the EU and China would establish a working group to handle reforming the trade organisation, but Brussels may find officials in Beijing less than welcoming.
"The level of government intervention in China's economy is already extremely, extremely low," Wang told reporters.
Balding called the claim "laughable" and China's official state council transcript of the event ended up dropping the remarks.
Washington and Brussels have focused their concern on China's lacking protection of intellectual property and the forced transfer of technology which some foreign firms say is required for market access.
"Accusing China of stealing intellectual property rights, and forcing technology transfer, this is fabrication, there is no factual basis to it," Wang said.

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First Published: Jun 28 2018 | 6:25 PM IST

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