China says it should receive ‘special treatment’ within World Trade Organisation

  • Country willing to ‘shoulder responsibilities’, but won’t allow other WTO members to discriminate against it, vice-minister of commerce says
  • Comments come after US economic adviser suggests China should be evicted from trade bloc for ‘misbehaving’
PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 November, 2018, 8:54pm
UPDATED : Friday, 23 November, 2018, 8:58pm

China should enjoy “special treatment” as a developing member nation of the World Trade Organisation, a senior Chinese official said on Friday, in an apparent rebuke of a White House adviser’s call to expel the world’s most populous nation from the group.

Ahead of a high-stakes meeting between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the upcoming Group of 20 summit in Argentina, vice-minister for commerce Wang Shouwen called on G20 members to discuss reforming the WTO to better reflect the interests of developing nations.

There was an urgent need for reform as the trade group had come under pressure from rising protectionism and unilateralism, he said at a press conference in a thinly veiled attack on the United States’ trade war with China.

“China is the biggest developing country in the world,” Wang said. “It is willing to shoulder responsibilities within the WTO in accordance with its level of development and capability, but it will not allow any members to deprive China of the special and differentiated treatment it should enjoy as a developing country member.”

Wang, who has taken part in several rounds of trade talks between Washington and Beijing, also defended China’s support for its state-owned enterprises, which is one of the sticking points in the trade war.

“The WTO should respect the development models of individual member countries,” he said.

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Without naming the US, Wang said there were “certain members” that discriminated against China’s model of having state-owned enterprises and providing subsidies for selected industries, and that they restricted technological and innovation exchanges with Beijing to maintain their monopolies in those sectors.

China “resolutely opposes” such discrimination and the WTO should introduce reforms to tackle it, he said.

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Wang’s remarks came after Kevin Hassett, one of Trump’s top economic advisers, said in an interview with the BBC earlier in the week that China should be “evicted” from the WTO as it has “misbehaved” as a member of the organisation.

“They need to start acting like the other developed nations,” the chairman of Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers, said of China in a separate interview with Fox News.