Week of November 16, 2001
Week of November 16, 2001
The U.S. and China This Week
INTERNATIONAL: China Accepted
Into World Trade Organization
After years of trying, China was finally accepted into the World Trade
Organization (WTO) November 10 at a meeting in Doha, Qatar. China still
must send the WTO word that it has ratified the terms of the agreement
of its accession, and 30 days later China will officially enter the organization.
China will have to reduce import tariffs to an overall average of eight
percent from the present 21 percent, end subsidies to farmers and state-owned
enterprises, and eliminate restrictions on where and how foreign corporations
sell their products in China. In addition, foreign telecommunications and
Internet service providers will be allowed to own higher percentages of
Chinese companies. And China will have to obey WTO rules on patents, copyrights
and intellectual property rights.
"China has made long-standing and unremitting efforts ?for acceding
to the WTO, which fully demonstrates the resolve and confidence of China
to deepen its reform and to open further to the outside world," said Shi
Guangsheng, China's minister of foreign trade and economic cooperation,
who spoke in Chinese, English and French.
Mainstream economists say free movement of goods and capital helps all
economies have better chances of higher incomes. But over half of China's
workers are in state-owned enterprises, and Lori Wallach, director of Global
Trade Watch, a group formed by Ralph Nader, said China's joining the WTO
will lead to "lost jobs and ruined livelihoods." Wallach also said other
countries, especially middle income ones, could be adversely affected as
multinational companies will now move to China. U.S. Trade Representative
Robert Zoellick said that while China faces a "daunting challenge," the
nation's previous growth shows that moving to the free market will "dramatically
raise production and standards of living."
Taiwan was accepted into the WTO November 11, the day after the mainland's
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INTERNATIONAL: China's Leaders
Wary of WTO Challenges
China's promises to cut tariffs and subsidies and stop other measures protecting
Chinese workers from the pressures of global capitalism in order to join
the World Trade Organization have its leaders worried. "Everyone is very
happy about the WTO except me," said Prime Minister Zhu Rongji. While Zhu
worked for WTO membership, he is concerned about China's many inefficient
farms and businesses. The WTO agreement will decrease farm incomes, close
down inefficient state-run banks and state-owned enterprises, bring more
people into already overcrowded cities, increase unemployment and increase
According to experts, tens of millions of Chinese farmers who grow wheat,
rice and cotton could soon be out of work. Beijing can subsidize agriculture
8.5 percent according to the WTO accession agreement, but economists say
it will have trouble maintaining the 3.5 percent it currently subsidizes
farmers. "There's no doubt the peasants will have it worse," said Yuan
Gangmin, a high-level economist with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
When it joins the WTO, China must reduce tariffs on auto imports to
25 percent from the present 80 to 100 percent. Duties on auto parts will
fall to 10 percent. Analysts say of more than 130 domestic auto makers,
only three or four will be able to compete in the global marketplace.
Currently, Chinese deposit savings in state-owned banks that have given
billions in loans to inefficient state-owned companies. Now that foreign
banks will be able to make loans and take deposits in the local currency,
many state-owned firms may be forced into bankruptcy as citizens use foreign
banks due to less risky lending practices and better service.
However, while there will be short-term economic difficulties from joining
the WTO, Chinese clothes, toys, shoes and other labor-intensive goods should
benefit greatly from WTO accession. In the long run, membership should
bring China substantial economic benefits. And Han Wen, an economist at
Beijing University, said Chinese leaders wanted to join the WTO to lock
in economic reforms initiated by Deng Xiaoping.
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AIDS Conference Highlights China's Progress, Shortcomings
China held its first ever AIDS conference November 13, which was attended
by the United Nations' foremost AIDS specialist, Peter Piot. Piot, the
executive director of Un-aids, the U.N. organ dealing with Aids, gave China
credit for making progress in dealing with the disease. "Compared to two
years ago, what's being said and the strategies that are being proposed
are good," Piot said in an interview. "But there is definitely not nearly
enough going on now to effectively deal with the epidemic. And there is
a lack of a sense of urgency at nearly all levels."
Piot told the 2,000 researchers and academics gathered in Beijing that
China could face 10 million more AIDS cases in the next ten years if preventive
measures are not implemented. Health Minister Zhang Wenkang estimated China
has 600,000 HIV-positive individuals, and said the government was setting
a goal of limiting that number to less than 1.5 million by 2010. But some
experts say China has more than 1.5 million people with HIV right now,
and the U.N. puts the figure at around one million.
In May, China's State Council put forth a plan to ensure safety of blood
donations, improve AIDS education, enhance training of health workers,
and develop sound HIV monitoring systems. There were no new measures announced
at the conference.
Reporters were only allowed to attend the opening session of the conference
and a news conference afterward. Chinese translators replaced "epidemic"
with "situation" every time Piot used the former term. And while Vice Premier
Li Lanqing was supposed to give the opening address, he was substituted
for by Zhang. Meanwhile, at the press conference, the director general
of the Health Ministry's Disease Control Department said reports of an
AIDS disaster in Henan province have been overblown. Tens of thousands,
if not hundreds of thousands, of villagers were infected through unclean
practices of collection when they sold their blood in the mid-1990's. Piot
alleged that similar mass infection from blood banks has occurred in Shanxi
province, which is adjacent to Henan. Selling blood was officially outlawed
in 1995 but continued long afterwards.
Piot criticized China for practicing severe discrimination against HIV-positive
individuals, having lack of effective AIDS education and offering insufficient
options for treatment of HIV. Chinese health workers complain their efforts
against AIDS are being impeded by widespread ignorance and prejudice about
the disease, especially among local government officials.
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The U.S. and China This
Last updated: October 05, 2001