Commentator Lin Yan said that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) always sends out opposite signals to the world. They want the world to see them as a prosperous, high-income per-capita country. But China still considers itself a developing country because of the WTO’s treatment principle for a developing country, which comes with economic, geographical, and political benefits.

On Saturday, Dec. 11, Han Wenxiu, deputy director of the Office of the Central Economic and Financial Commission of China, said that, in 2021, China’s GDP is expected to reach $15.6 trillion, GDP per capita is approximately $12,000. The index is close to the World Bank’s high-income standards.

On the other hand, Dec. 11 is the 20th anniversary of China’s accession to the WTO. Still, China continues to participate in WTO affairs as a “developing country.”

Li Chenggang, China’s Permanent Representative to the WTO, said on Friday, Dec. 10, that China would remain a developing country in the WTO. Still, China will give up seeking preferential treatment for developing countries. However, Li Chenggang did not specify the time and conditions for China to completely give up its status as a developing country under WTO rules.

According to ​​commentator Lin Yan, for a long time, there have been differing views on whether China is a developed country or a developing country. This is a loophole of the WTO. They do not have specific definitions of “developed countries” and “developing countries” and allow member states to make statements based on their own economic development. 

However, the WTO has principles of differential treatment for developing and developed countries. This differential treatment mainly includes easing restrictions on trade subsidies for developing countries, allowing developing countries to use more flexible economic and trade policy tools, prolonging the transition period, and providing technical assistance to developing member countries.

Commentator Lin Yan said that because the WTO implements a decision-making mechanism “one member, one vote” and consensus, with developing countries the majority, they often quickly gain an advantage in decision-making.

In December 2017, Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. trade negotiator, asked the WTO to clarify the definition of development within the WTO framework.

He said that the U.S. could not accept this; the new WTO rules are only applied to a few countries, the rest of the countries avoid them by identifying themselves as developing countries. In particular, five of the six wealthiest countries claim to be developing countries.

Taiwan, Brazil, and South Korea have all given up their status as developing countries.

Commentator Dr. Zhu Ming said that the CCP, which claims to be the world’s largest developing country, is on par with developing countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and even Europe. This is inconvenient, as they always go against ethical issues while strongly arguing with Western countries, especially in competition with the WTO or litigation with the U.S.

A few weeks ago, U.S. Trade Representative Dai Qi said that the U.S. is ready comprehensively to engage in dialogue to reform the WTO.

Republican Senator Tom Cotton wrote in the National Review on Saturday, Dec. 11, that the U.S. Congress should approve the immediate and permanent termination of normal trade relations with China and correct the mistake of accepting China’s accession to the WTO 20 years ago.

He wrote, “The Chinese Communist Party is a criminal economic group and must be excluded from the international trade order. Justice, fairness, and conscience demand it.”

House Speaker and Democratic Representative Nancy Pelosi also tweeted on Saturday: “Twenty years ago, in accepting China as a WTO member, the world gave the CCP a blank check.”

A blank check is a signed check, and you can fill in the amount you want; it can also be understood that the review can be handled with complete discretion.

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