China issues WTO obligation report for the first time, slamming US unilateralism, bullying moves
Published: Aug 11, 2023 09:56 PM
The Ministry of Commerce Photo: VCG

The Ministry of Commerce Photo: VCG

China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) on Friday issued a report on the US' fulfillment of its WTO obligations for the first time, slamming Washington for "destroying the multilateral trade mechanism, exercising unilateralist bullying, manipulating double standards in industrial policy and disrupting global industrial and supply chain."

Observers said the report offers an objective presentation on the US' rampant hegemonic moves that prioritize America-first interests at the cost of ruining the world multilateral order and triggering chaos and division. As the US has been escalating economic coercion against China step by step, it also sends a stern warning to the US - ahead of US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo's reported visit to China in August - urging Washington to return to the right track of the WTO-based global system as a first step to repair bilateral relations. 

It is also necessary for China to proactively publicize such a report, as more countries, not only China, have been falling victim to Washington's erratic moves. The well-documented report is a stark contrast to the annual report on China's WTO compliance issued by the US Trade Representative, which bears no international credibility as it is a geopolitical tool made up of groundless accusations against China, they noted.

The report called on the US, as the world's largest economy as well as main founder and main beneficiary of the multilateral trading system, to comply with the rules and honor its commitments, to ensure the multilateral trading system plays a bigger role in global governance. 

Based on an overall assessment of US behavior, the report expressed China's concerns on several fronts.

The US is the member with the largest number of dispute settlements initiated by other WTO members. But it not only selectively implements WTO rulings, but also insists on obstructing the selection of members of the Appellate Body and causing it to become "paralyzed," which makes it "a destroyer of the multilateral trade system," the report said.

The report also pointed out that the US has long used "national security," "human rights" and "forced technology transfer" as excuses to take unilateral measures against other WTO members, impose tariffs arbitrarily and abuse trade remedies. By levying its advantages in the economic and trade field, it coerces other members to obey its foreign policy and unreasonable demands, all of which amount to it being a "perpetrator of unilateralist bullying."

According to the report, the US has implemented exclusive and discriminatory subsidy policies on a large scale, whereas it uses export controls and other means to restrict the industrial development of other members, which makes it "a manipulator of double standards in industrial policies."

The report also touches on the US-instigated decoupling push. With unilateral tariff measures, it attempts to force industrial chains to relocate and establish US-centric industrial chains with hefty subsidies. It also promotes near-shore outsourcing and so-called "friend-shoring" based on claimed shared values, and all those moves make it a "disruptor of global supply chain."

Chinese observers said the evaluation is very "to the point" and has solid evidence. They cited a lengthy list of Washington's bullying affronts, ranging from the recent curbs on Chinese high-tech investment, pressuring its allies to join its semiconductor ban against China, the inflation act that siphons its partners' competitive tech industries, to the prolonged trade war the US waged against China five years ago.  

"It zooms into every one of the US' geopolitical plots. Not only China but also other countries have been bearing the brunt of the US' ill-intended moves, so the US is in no position to point fingers at others," Gao Lingyun, an expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, told the Global Times on Friday.

Ironically, the US has been releasing reports on China's WTO Compliance every year. In a 70-page report in March, the USTR alleged that China has not fulfilled the  commitments it made when joining the WTO. China's MOFCOM dismissed the report at that time, saying it lacks both legal and factual basis.

China's report on the US fulfillment is a strong pushback against the US' groundless accusations, and it lays bare that it is the US' persistent bullying practices that endanger the foundation of the WTO, Tian Yun, former vice director of the Beijing Economic Operation Association, told the Global Times. 

"The US has seriously undermined the core values and basic principles of the multilateral trading system, wreaked havoc on the reform and development of the WTO, and has hurt the common interests of members," a MOFOM official said, urging the US to correct its wrongdoings.

Conversely, China has been making significant contributions to the WTO since joining the organization in 2001. 

According to the official, China has supported the multilateral trading system with practical actions, fully fulfilled its commitment to the WTO and promoted the construction of an open world economy while offering new development opportunities based on its latest development. 

The report comes amid a flurry of visits by top US officials to China. It is reported that Raimondo could visit China in August, making her the fourth top US official to visit China since June. 

"It is a warning as the US shows no sign of scaling back from unilateral sanctions against Chinese industries," Tian noted.