On December 11, 2001, China formally joined the World Trade Organization
(WTO). Some were overjoyed, others harboured misgivings about the impact it may
have, and still others cried wolf.
Five years have passed, which enables us to take stock of the country's WTO
membership to date.
It can be summed up in this way: To begin with, China's WTO entry has
promoted the country's economic reform, boosted the growth of the Chinese
economy and made China's integration into the world irreversible. In addition,
China's WTO entry has helped power the world economy, helping put the economies
on its periphery on the fast track, bringing benefits to the developing world
and also helping the stagnant Western economies get out of difficult straits.
Five years ago, some Chinese worried that the influx of foreign commodities
could ruin the domestic industry once China became a WTO member. Today, however,
they find that a win-win situation has been brought by the country's WTO
membership: The price of imported cars keeps going down; the Chinese-made
vehicles are gaining bigger and bigger market share; more big-buck foreign films
are being screened; more Chinese movies are becoming box-office hits and are
targeting European and US audiences; telecommunications costs show signs of
going down; banking reform is picking up speed; and the insurance sector is
People have come to know that competition from outside only serves to make
domestic players more hardworking and smarter.
In the past five years, a set of new strategic ideas has been conceived by
the Chinese authorities, involving Chinese industries going overseas for
development, bringing about sustainable development, shifting the traditional
GDP-oriented growth model to a balanced-growth model, quickening the process of
urbanization, promoting regional economies, building the new countryside and so
Partly, these ideas are the product of necessity in the wake of China's WTO
entry. For example, China must abolish 3,000 outdated rules, regulations and
laws that fail to keep up with WTO requirements.
On the other hand, however, the new ideas also reflect the initiatives taken
by the Chinese Government to meet these challenges.
It is these new ideas and their implementation that have helped bring about
significant changes in China.
Internationally, China has become one of the dynamos powering the world
economy. In the past five years, for example, overseas investors have remitted a
total of US$57.94 billion in profits out of China. At the same time, China has
imported commodities worth a total of US$2.4 trillion. The country's tariff on
imported industrial products has dropped from 42.9 per cent before China joined
the WTO to 9 per cent now. The tariff on imported farm produce has gone down
from 54 per cent to 15.3 per cent. These are record tariff cuts for any WTO
member in such a short period of time.
Meanwhile, the commerce, telecommunications, construction, retail sales,
education, environment, financial, tourism and transport sectors have all been
opened to the outside world.
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