Singapore’s primary Chinese language newspaper Lianhe Zaobao recently reported that Li Chenggang, China’s ambassador to the World Trade Organization (WTO), said that China will remain a developing country in the WTO, but will give up some of its preferential treatment for developing countries. This is a major change for China’s trading partners. Li said that, due to some persistent poverty issues, China still considers itself a developing country, but China will seek to divest itself in some areas such as agriculture and financial services. He also said that, as a major fishing country, China may waive all WTO exemptions. WTO members, including the United States, Australia, and Japan, criticized China in a WTO trade assessment in October, pointing out that China provides subsidies to state-owned enterprises. That violates the conditions under which China joined the WTO in 2001. However, Li argued that, in terms of lowering tariff rates and opening up the service industry, it has surpassed some WTO accession standards. He refused to disclose when and under what conditions China will completely abandon its position as a developing country. As the world’s second largest economy, China faces increasing criticism from its trading partners on the issue of China’s status as a developing country.
Source: Lianhe Zaobao, December 11, 2021