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Beijing targeted by US 'protectionism'

By ZHONG NAN and JING SHUIYU | China Daily | Updated: 2018-01-22 10:53
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Experts say it is Washington that is ignoring rules on global trade 

China is the world's biggest victim of unfair trade rules, while it is the United States that does not abide by World Trade Organization rules, trade experts said on Sunday.

Their comments came after the Office of the US Trade Representative posted two reports on Friday accusing China and Russia of having "failed to comply with their obligations" to the WTO. It said the US mistakenly supported China's WTO membership in 2001 because it is "incapable of forcing China" to open its economy.

"It seems clear that the US erred in supporting China's entry in the WTO on terms that have proved to be ineffective in securing China's embrace of an open, market-orientated trade regime," said the annual report to the US Congress on China's compliance with WTO commitments.

"Since joining the WTO in 2011, China has made countless efforts including removing up to 8,000 documents, policies and measures inconsistent with WTO rules," Wei Jianguo, former vice-minister of commerce, told China Daily.

"China has reduced tariffs to levels it had promised before joining the WTO, and the decline exceeded the previous targets," said Wei, now vice-president of the Beijing-based China Center for International Economic Exchanges.

It is Washington that is ignoring WTO rules, he said, referring to the United States' opposition to granting market economy status to China and its use of Section 301 of the US Trade Act to override global trade rules.

"That self-assertiveness (of the US) is increasingly triggering anger around the world," he said.

"We clearly do not want a trade war ... but if the US sticks to protectionism, we can cope with it," he warned. "Do not bully China to test the country's endurance. It is absolutely not allowed."

Such behavior can only damage the business ties between the two countries and force China to import more passenger aircraft and vehicles, agricultural products, and industrial and power generation equipment from capable trade partners in Europe, as their trade structure is even more complementary, said Li Guanghui, vice-president of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation in Beijing.

"It is unwise to escalate the trade dispute into a war between two countries as global trade activities began to rebound in 2017, and China has been keen to import high-tech products in areas including manufacturing, environmental protection, new materials and chemical products," Li said.

"China's closer trade ties with European economies like France and Germany surely can offset the worsening situation if Trump's administration continues to insist on neglecting many US companies' interests in China's massive markets."

Another USTR report also treated Russia harshly, saying the country had no intention of complying with its WTO obligations.

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