Canada, Australia playact group attack against China by joining WTO talks: lawyers
Published: Feb 11, 2022 03:25 PM
Photo taken on July 15, 2020 shows the exterior view of the World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. photo: Xinhua

Photo taken on July 15, 2020 shows the exterior view of the World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Photo: Xinhua

Canada and Australia seeking to join WTO talks on EU's trade dispute with China is simply playacting, and the case may become a card used by some Western countries to attack China on multilateral occasions, lawyers warned. 

The comments came after Canada and Australia on Thursday, following the US and the UK, requested to join EU consultations with China at WTO. 

In a statement, Canada's Foreign Ministry noted concern over China's recent trade actions against Lithuania and European Union goods and services with Lithuanian content, which could undermine the rules-based international trading system and its institutions.

On Thursday, Australia also confirmed to join EU's challenge against China at WTO, citing the country has "a substantial trade interest" in the consultations, the South China Morning Post reported.

Attempt by the US, Canada, Australia and the UK to join the consultations between China and the EU is essentially playacting and China has right to reject their participation at the consultation stage, Guan Jian, a partner at Beijing Globe-Law Law Firm, told the Global Times on Friday. 

"Some Western countries led by the US may take advantage of the case and use it to group attack China on multilateral occasions and on public opinions," Guan warned. 

Though it is very normal to involve the third country parties in dispute settlement proceedings at WTO, the moves of Canada and Australia showed a strong political indication - it appears they are expressing a united front on China, Li Ye, an international trade lawyer who specializes in WTO laws, told the Global Times on Friday. 

The EU on January 27 launched a case at the WTO against China over Lithuania's trade disputes.

The challenge at the WTO gave 60 days for the parties to confer in order to reach a settlement. Should a settlement not be reached, the EU may launch a formal dispute, requiring a WTO panel to study the case.

"Whether the case could be settled through negotiations will depend more on political factors, instead of technical discussion," Li said.

Commenting on the EU's accusation, Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, in January vehemently denied the allegation, saying that the so-called coercion against Lithuania is completely false, and the issue between China and Lithuania is political rather than economic, and it was created because of the latter's treachery that hurts China's interests.

Global Times