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[ineb] Fw: WTO/China

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  • INEB Secretariat
    Dear friends, This note is from the Asia Pacific Center for Justice and Peace - for your information. In peace, Panadda INEB Secretariat ... term ... as ...
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 27, 1999
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      Dear friends,

      This note is from the Asia Pacific Center for Justice and Peace - for your
      information.

      In peace,

      Panadda
      INEB Secretariat
      -------------------------

      > From: Asia Pacific Center for Justice and Peace <apcjp@...>
      > To: apcjp@...
      > Subject: WTO/China
      > Date: 25 ¾ÄȨԡÒ¹ 2542 1:20
      >
      > Can the WTO Open Up China?
      >
      > The China-US trade agreement reached today in Beijing between US Trade
      > Representative Charlene Barshevsky and Chinese Foreign Trade Minister Shi
      > Guangsheng opens the way for China's accession to the World Trade
      > Organization. For both sides, the agreement fulfills a major goal of
      > negotiations ahead of the WTO summit in Seattle. Supporters of the deal
      term
      > it a "win-win solution" for China, the US and the WTO. China's accession,
      as
      > with WTO "free trade" rules in general, will benefit the owners of
      capital,
      > hence vocal corporate and government backing. However, there are serious
      > reasons to doubt whether the agreement will bring net benefits to the
      > Chinese or American people or result in any meaningful political change.
      >
      > In theory, increased trade brings gains to both partners. The conditions
      of
      > perfect competition under which this is true, however, are rarely if ever
      > met. Moreover, even if both sides do gain from trade in total dollar
      terms,
      > the benefits are often distributed so unequally so as to leave most
      people
      > relatively worse off. This may well be true in both the US and China. A
      > well-organized lobbying effort on the part of US corporations, primarily
      > through the Business Roundtable and Chamber of Commerce, has propelled
      the
      > Clinton Administration through negotiations and defused Congressional
      > opposition. Two-thirds of foreign companies in China lost money in 1998,
      but
      > with preferential treatment through the WTO, investors hope to realize
      the
      > centuries-old dream of reaching the potentially vast Chinese market. In
      the
      > short term, however, the Chinese people are unlikely to be able to afford
      > many more imported goods-which means that the US-China trade deficit may
      > well increase as a result.
      >
      > In China, research by economist Hu Angang and others predicts that
      > unemployment, already at a record high, will skyrocket as state-owned
      > enterprises shut down. Income disparities between regions and among
      > individuals will widen sharply. Costs for health care, once virtually
      zero,
      > will soar. WTO membership will erode the central government's ability to
      > raise revenue through tariffs and support a once-impressive social
      welfare
      > system. While the private and international trade sectors of the economy
      > will benefit, these gains will not be well distributed. Corrupt officials
      > and managers will likely find ways to work around the new rules, while
      > passing the costs on to their workers and society as a whole.
      >
      > Chinese used to be able to say with some validity that while their system
      > did not protect individual liberties, it did provide for social and
      economic
      > rights better than a free-market economy such as the US. Now,
      increasingly,
      > the Chinese system combines the worst features of capitalism and
      socialism.
      > The "rule of law" imposed through the WTO will limit economic policy
      > options, but the Communist Party still stands above the law politically.
      > Without first implementing far-reaching political, financial and
      > administrative reform, increased trade will only create more
      opportunities
      > for corruption and market distortion.
      >
      > Some voices in the human rights community support Chinese membership in
      the
      > WTO because they believe it will lead to political reform and greater
      > openness in Chinese society. Yet the WTO, with its lack of transparency,
      > corporate-driven agenda, and neglect of environmental and labor rights
      > standards, has harmed democracy in developing countries around the world.
      > How can a closed trade organization open up China? China's leaders have
      > pursued far-reaching economic reforms since the early 1980s, with no
      > corresponding political change. Membership in international
      organizations,
      > even signing on to human rights covenants, has not changed China's
      behavior.
      > As China joins the WTO, it continues to imprison political dissidents and
      > persecute practitioners of Falun Gong.
      >
      > The US press typically divides Chinese leaders into "hard-liners" and
      > "liberals." In reality, the leadership is remarkably unified. Everyone
      > supports economic reform, at varying speeds and in varying directions. No
      > one favors any political opening. Premier Zhu Rongji may be a talented
      > economic policymaker, but he is no more a democrat than any other Chinese
      > leader. The "reformers" praised in the West argue for faster growth, more
      > privatization, and joining the global system sooner rather than later.
      > Ironically, it is the so-called "conservatives" who show concern for the
      > social effects of a market system, including unemployment, mass
      rural-urban
      > migration, and rampant corruption.
      >
      > For decades, China's size and peculiar politics have shielded it from
      many
      > of the excesses of corporate capitalism. Unlike most of its Asian
      neighbors,
      > China avoided damage from the Asian financial crisis in 1997-98, in no
      small
      > measure because it had not yet fully joined the global economy. Currency
      > controls remained in place, along with limits on foreign direct
      investment,
      > joint ownership, and capital mobility. Especially if a new WTO round
      enacts
      > regulations on investment, these independent economic policies will be
      much
      > harder to sustain, if they do not actually violate WTO rules. China might
      > integrate into the international economy just in time to share in its
      next
      > crisis.
      >
      >
      > Andrew Wells, Program Director at the Asia Pacific Center, is enroute to
      > Seattle for the WTO events next week.
      >
      >
      >
      > **************************************************************
      > Asia Pacific Center for Justice and Peace
      > 110 Maryland Avenue, N.E. Box 70
      > Washington, D.C. 20002
      >
      > Tel: 202-543-1094
      > Fax: 202-546-5103
      > E-Mail: apcjp@...
      > Web: www.apcjp.org
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