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China lashes out at US ‘double standards’ at the WTO

  • Beijing accuses Washington of bullying and trying to destroy the multilateral trading system

  • Report might reflect Chinese government fears about international trade, analyst says

By Vanessa Cai in Shanghai

August 13, 2023

China has published its first assessment of US compliance at the WTO. Photo: Reuters

China has taken aim at US compliance with the World Trade Organization, accusing Washington of disrupting supply chains in a move that analysts say could reflect grave concerns in Beijing about trade prospects.

Releasing the report on Friday, China’s Ministry of Commerce described the United States as a “destroyer of the multilateral trading system”, “bullying hegemonist”, “double-standard manipulator” and “disturber of global industrial and supply chains”.

The ministry said the US’ activities had resulted in “severe shocks to the multilateral trading system”, and the United States should “abide by the rules, honour its commitments and lead by example as a major WTO member”.

“Regrettably, the US, as the world’s largest economy and the main founder and important beneficiary of the multilateral trading system, has in recent years disregarded multilateral rules and the expectations of its members,” the ministry said.

“The multilateral trading system is facing enormous challenges,” it said, adding that key members of the WTO should promote cooperation to “jointly safeguard its authority and effectiveness”.

“China would like to take this opportunity to call on the US to rectify its wrongdoings in a timely manner, effectively comply with WTO rules and its own commitments, and actively safeguard the authority, integrity and effectiveness of the multilateral trading system,” the ministry said.

It is the first time China has released a report on US compliance at the WTO and it comes in the countdown to an expected visit to China by Gina Raimondo, the US commerce secretary.

Raimondo follows in the footsteps of a number of senior American officials sent to Beijing to talk to their Chinese counterparts as the Biden administration seeks to ease tensions between the two countries.

China’s report comes six months after the Office of the US Trade Representative offered the latest of its annual assessments of China’s fulfilment of its WTO commitments.

US trade representative Katherine Tai said at that time that the review “details the scale of China’s non-market policies and practices”.

“[It] is a reminder that the international trading system must continue to work together to defend our shared interests against these harmful actions,” Tai said.

The WTO appellate body has been paralysed since 2019 by US blocks on new appointments. The Biden administration has also stepped up tech curbs on China by restricting American investment in Chinese businesses.

Pang Zhongying, a professor of international affairs at Sichuan University, said the ministry’s report could reflect China’s trade problems in regional and global markets.

“But such criticism targeting the US will only worsen bilateral ties,” he said.

Wang Yiwei, director of the Institute of International Affairs at Renmin University of China, said that with several multilateral meetings later this year, including the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in November, China needed to make its position clear to other countries.

Beijing also needed to make a statement to the international community and the US public ahead of the presidential election next year, Wang said.

The ministry’s report raised concerns about the US government’s policies and measures in 11 areas, including tariff and non-tariff barriers, trade remedies, technical regulations, export controls and economic sanctions.

“[The US] arbitrarily raised tariffs on imports, abused trade remedy and export control measures, granted discriminatory subsidies, instigated decoupling and fragmenting of industrial and supply chains, and imposed economic coercion and sanctions of all kinds,” it said.


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