Crucial WTO conference brooks no political farce over Taiwan question
Published: Jun 15, 2022 08:15 PM
Photo: Xinhua

Photo: Xinhua

China's Taiwan island and Lithuania staged a political farce during the crucial ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Authorities from the Chinese island and the small European country reportedly held "bilateral talks" on sidelines of the WTO meeting to jointly resist the Chinese mainland's economic "coercion," according to Western media reports.

As top trade officials across the world are gathering in Geneva to discuss important and urgent issues such as pandemic response, agricultural reform and WTO reform, the petty action of the Taiwan island and Lithuania is nothing but a publicity stunt to show their presence. Yet, their farce that deviates from the agenda of the multilateral conference is despicable.

First and foremost, the political trick will fool nobody. It's plain for all to see the so-called economic coercion accusation against Chinese mainland is a complete lie. After recklessly hurting China's core interests by manipulating the Taiwan question, the rogue government of Lithuania immediately came up with the economic "coercion" accusation to play the victim.

After Beijing decided to downgrade its diplomatic relations with Lithuania to the level of chargé d'affaires, Lithuania, instead of learning a lesson, started requesting the EU to add some pressure on China. In January, the EU launched a WTO case against China with the concocted economic "coercion" accusation. 

Unsurprisingly, the secessionist Democratic Progressive Party (DDP) authority on the Taiwan island soon joined the Lithuanian government's ridiculous campaign. In addition, countries such as the US, the UK, Australia, and Canada also expressed their willingness to join the WTO case, trying to create a momentum of "jointly support for Lithuania against coercion." But the politicization of a normal trade dispute process just exposed their sinister political agenda to contain China.

The WTO is not only a platform for multilateralism, but also plays a huge and positive role in promoting trade globalization and achieving common prosperity. However, now this platform for dealing with trade disputes is increasingly used by Western governments as a political tool. 

While the Taiwan authorities and Lithuania are staging their political farce at the crucial WTO meeting this week, the Taiwan authority also threatened to take the Chinese mainland to the WTO after the imports of grouper fish from the island were suspended after being detected for containing prohibited drugs multiple times since 2021. 

The current difficulties encountered by the WTO are closely related to the increasingly out-of-control political interference from the US and a few of its close allies in recent years. Impacted by growing US unilateralism and hegemony, the WTO dispute settlement mechanism has been subject to increasingly significant political interference, as the US government has also intentionally paralyzed the operation of the WTO Appellate Body. The WTO's international trade dispute settlement system can't be hijacked by the US, its allies and become a chess piece to contain the economies of China, and other economies.

 The WTO should not be eroded by small political cliques led by Washington. Multilateralism is an irreversible trend, and even the US, as a superpower, cannot hold it back, not to mention its geopolitical pawn Lithuania or Taiwan's DPP. 

As WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said in her opening address of the meeting, this is a time to demonstrate that multilateralism works, a time to demonstrate that the WTO can deliver for the international community.

The political tricks played by Taiwan island and Lithuania have little economic significance. If they continue to muddy the waters, or try to kidnap the platform and use it as a tool to harm the Chinese mainland, they are doomed to fail.

The author is an editor with the Global Times.