World can’t sit idly by if US insists on going its own way: Global Times editorial
Published: Dec 25, 2022 11:21 PM
A sign of the WTO on its headquarters in Geneva Photo: VCG

A sign of the WTO on its headquarters in Geneva Photo: VCG

The British newspaper The Guardian published a report on December 24 with the headline "Australia and China team up to protest WTO blockages caused by US vetoes on appeal body." In fact, it is not just the "China-Australia team," but a joint proposal by as many as 127 members to protest US' long-term obstruction of the appointment of judges to the WTO's Supreme Appellate Body, which has paralyzed it for three years. The proposal calls for the immediate start of the judge selection process and the restoration of the normal operation of the WTO dispute settlement mechanism as soon as possible.

This was the 61st proposal made by the vast majority of WTO members on this issue, and it represents the common and strong voice of justice in the world. What is infuriating is that the US also responded with contempt for the 61st time. The Guardian singled out China and Australia, perhaps thinking that it would be eye-catching to say that even Australia is standing with China against the US. But this does reflect that, on a major international issue, the US stands on the absolute mainstream opposite side of the international society. What's even worse is that it is completely indifferent to this, refusing to accept or provide legitimate legal reasons for obstructing the selection process, and confronting the world with its own selfishness.

The proposal stressed "the urgency and importance" for all to see, and the urgency and importance are becoming more pronounced over time. Anne Osborn Krueger, the former chief economist of the World Bank, recently published an article warning that countries around the world are sleepwalking toward a global trade war. Both the Inflation Reduction Act and the CHIPS and Science Act will come into effect on January 1, 2023. It can be said that these are two trade time bombs that the US has sent to the world. Among them, the discriminatory trade protectionist provisions have been unanimously opposed by the international community, including most of the allies of the US, which is likely to ignite a super-large-scale global trade war. It is conceivable that this will be an unbearable burden for the global economy next year. 

It feels like, with flood coming, the US has poked a hole in the disaster prevention dam built by the international community, and no one else is allowed to block it. This is a perilous situation facing international trade today. Leaders of many international organizations such as the WTO, World Bank and International Monetary Fund have expressed concerns about the global economic recession next year. Against this backdrop, if a global trade war breaks out, it will not just add insult to injury. A report released by WTO predicts sharp slowdown in world trade growth in 2023, with the growth to slow to 1 percent next year, a sharp decline from the 3.4 percent previously estimated. The situation is evidently very grave. The world's trading powers must act to prevent a global trade war. If the US continues to add fuel to the fire at such a time of global crisis, it is engaging in criminal acts against the common interests of humankind.

To some extent, the US has become the grey rhino of the international trade system. The damage aroused by its collision may lead to the collapse of the international trade system, which will inevitably trigger severe global consequences and aggravate social unrest and political anger on the global scale. All these should be put on the US. It is hoped that the US knows what it is releasing from the box.

The WTO's recent consecutive judgments, which were against the US, have dealt a heavy blow to the country, and may intensify the US' rebellious mentality. Given the US' character, it will not look for problems on its own. Instead, it is more likely to feel that the problems are all rooted in the WTO mechanism. At the same time, it's clear that an increasing number of countries have expressed their opposition to the selfishness and arrogance shown by the US in the field of international trade. The US' four characterizations summarized by Li Chenggang, China's Ambassador to the WTO, are appropriate, that is, "a saboteur of the multilateral trading system," "an expert of unilateralism and bullying," "a manipulator applying double standards in industrial policies" and "a disruptor of global industrial and supply chains." In the matter of international trade, the US has gradually fallen into an "alienated" situation.

Some argue that if the US insists on going its own way, there is nothing we can do about it. Words cannot be said like that and this is not the case. For example, in regard of the joint proposal of 127 members, although the US rejected it once again, every time it turns it down, the cost of credibility and the moral pressure it faces will increase exponentially, and it will eventually reach the critical point it can bear. Standing alone on the opposite side of international justice, where it is freezing, the US can hardly bear the cold no matter how brazen the US is.